Albemarle seeking federal funding to for affordable housing incentives 

The six member Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets in Lane Auditorium at 1 p.m. for their regular meeting. (agenda)

After the usual start to the meeting, there will be a discussion of legislative priorities for the 2024 General Assembly which begins in about three months. This is the third opportunity this year for Supervisors to discuss their wish list for bills in the upcoming session. In September, they made three main requests:

  • Supervisors want Virginia to pick up some or all of the tab for the $58 million purchase of land near Rivanna Station. 
  • Supervisors want authority to levy a one percent sales tax for school construction. The likelihood of such a bill passing depends on what political party controls the General Assembly. Such authority was granted to many localities when Democrats held both Chambers but that stopped when Republicans gained a majority in the House of Delegates. Here’s a story from February 2021 that illustrates the philosophical differences. 
  • Supervisors want to be able to deploy speed cameras on rural roads where enforcement is made difficult by narrow lanes. 

At this discussion, Supervisors will further discuss a report from the Virginia Department of Fire programs. The draft legislative priority list contains a request for more funding to fully staff public safety personnel. Supervisors will also consider approving a letter of support to Nelson County’s efforts to extend Line of Duty benefits to private police departments. 

“Officer Mark Christopher Wagner, II served the Wintergreen community as a private police officer, as recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and while responding to a disturbance call in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 16, 2023,” reads the support letter. 

General Assembly approval would be required to make the change. 

Supervisors will also get an update on work underway to modernize Albemarle’s zoning code. The Berkeley Group has been conducting a review since early 2022 and will make recommendations. 

“The proposed amendments are intended to establish more efficient administrative procedures, provide a clear and user-friendly format, and create an adaptive, modern ordinance that meets the current needs of Albemarle County,” reads the staff report.

I hope to finally get an update written as a result of this presentation. 

In the evening session, there had been a public hearing on a grant application to secure funds for the county to begin a couple of loan programs related to the provision of affordable housing. However, the item was pulled following further information related to the guidelines of the grant. This paragraph was edited at 6:17 p.m. on the day of publication after the item had been pulled.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers funding through the Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) program.

“The grant funding can be used for a variety of activities that directly support the County’s efforts to develop a developer incentive program,” reads the staff report for the public hearing. 

Such a program is called for in the Housing Albemarle plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors in July 2021. That plan would set a minimum percentage of units that have to be provided at sale or rental prices below market, and would expand the period required for compliance.

Albemarle is now seeking $6,322,642, $5 million of which would support an “Affordable Rental Housing Revolving Loan Fund” for both nonprofit and for-profit developers. These groups could apply for up to $50,000 a unit for new construction or rehabilitation, site acquisition, infrastructure, acquisition, and pre-development work. 

If the full grant amount is awarded, another $1 million would go to a “Small Landlord Fund” for repairs to rental units and another $162,009 would be used to fund a part-time housing inspector for four years. 

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 October 16, 2023 Week Ahead. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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