Charlottesville’s future affordable housing manual published

The first hearing on the draft Development Ordinance for the City of Charlottesville is set for Thursday, September 14. 

Last week, the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development services published a consolidated version of three modules of the future zoning code which will inform how future buildings can be constructed. The zoning follows the general theme of the adopted Comprehensive Plan that the city should plan for more residential density throughout the city. 

The zoning also follows the direction of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Plan which seeks to require that rents or sales prices for a percentage of units be permanently reserved for households whose incomes are below at least sixty percent of the area median income. 

At the time of the release of the zoning, a manual to govern that affordability was not available now that document is available for review.  (view the manual)

“The creation of an Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance was a recommendation of the Affordable Housing Plan… which recommended new zoning tools to support Charlottesville’s affordable housing needs through the creation and preservation of affordable housing units,” reads the introduction to the 13-page manual. “[That is] moderately priced units that the market would not otherwise build.”

There are two main tools. One is a requirement that developments of more than ten units set-aside ten percent of the units as affordable dwelling units. The other is a bonus height that is triggered if the affordability threshold is met. 

Section 2.2 describes the option for a developer to pay into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund rather than set aside units. 

“The in-lieu fee is equal to the average total cost per unit of developing a residential unit in the Charlottesville market,” reads the section. 

Affordability would be set at 99 years as recorded in a deed restriction. The Zoning Administrator could waive this requirement if the developer can demonstrate that any financial returns from the project would be reinvested in more affordable units and if the project helped build wealth for the income-qualified resident. 

There are a lot of requirements to  participate in the program. At the site plan level, developers would need to apply to certify designated units. Before a building permit is issued, the developer would need to provide the deed restriction, and in-lieu payments, as well as a plan for how to market the units to qualified households. 

Developers would also need to have a plan for how to administer the program over time. Property owners could not refuse to accept housing vouchers. 

Tenants would need to recertify their income annually. If a household exceeds 100 percent of the area median income, they would need to leave after 90 calendar days. The property owner would be responsible for verifying all of the information. 

The city’s Office of Community Solutions will oversee monitoring and compliance. The city would have the right to inspect properties. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the August 23, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

Additionally, this was posted during a time I’ve upgraded to a new WordPress theme. Some things may not look as they should. But, it’s a fun experiment!

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