Charlottesville City Council has appointed members to two new committees formed as part of a call to restructure the way funding for affordable housing projects is governed.
“A major portion of the discussion during the Affordable Housing Plan that was developed a year plus ago was talking about the need to separate out the different functions, the different advisory functions into a funding committee and just the general Housing Advisory Committee [HAC],” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook.
Applications all in for two other recent requests for proposals
Charlottesville City Council adopted a new Affordable Housing Plan in March 2021 that called for reform to the way city funds are handed out to nonprofits and others. Last October, the city announced a new approach which created four distinct funding opportunities and have so far released details on how to apply to three of them.
Yesterday the city issued a request for proposals for the final bucket.
“This competitive application process is open to affordable housing organizations that actively address the affordable housing needs of low- and moderate- income households,” reads a press release for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. “CAHF funds will be used to support affordable housing projects located within the City of Charlottesville.”
For much of the next couple of weeks, you’re going to read and hear a lot from meetings I’ve not yet been able to get to. That begins right now with the first of several reports from the December 13, 2022 meeting of the Planning Commission.
The official start to the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and that’s what the calendar entry on the city’s website says. But the Commission starts a pre-meeting at 5 p.m. at which official business is discussed.
One of the items on the regular agenda was the draft capital improvement program. Chair Lyle Solla-Yates took the opportunity during the pre-meeting to ask a broad question.
“We have a lot of I think important projects that are not recommended for funding in this [Capital Improvement Program],” Solla-Yates said. “I suspect they are important and we need them. I would like to have a better understanding from staff about how difficult this is to not fund them. How much pain are we in for?”
A housing plan adopted by the Charlottesville City Council in March 2021 called for a shift in the way the city funded programs to build, preserve, and maintain units that are guaranteed to be sold or rented below the market value.
“The Affordable Housing Plan recommends that the City make a strong and recurring financial commitment to address housing needs in Charlottesville in order to (1) increase the number of subsidized affordable homes by 1,100 homes (on top of an existing 1,630 actively subsidized homes), (2) preserve 600 existing subsidized affordable homes, and (3) stabilize 1,800 to 2,200 owner and renter households facing housing instability,” reads an application for non-profit groups seeking funding for Housing Operations and Program Support.
In mid-October the city’s office of Community Solutions announced future funds would be available through four separate pools.
In recent years, both Albemarle and Charlottesville have increased the level of funding that goes to pay for initiatives to subsidize the cost of housing for households below certain income levels. Albemarle’s housing policy manager provided an update to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting on November 2.
“Looking at overall funding activity in [fiscal year] 2022 and [fiscal year] 2023, the Board has approved about $11.5 million in funding across many different funding streams,” said Dr. Stacy Pethia.
After taking a six-week pause, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has approved a rezoning for the second phase of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park.
“Phase 2 would include a minimum of 527 residential units up to a maximum of 1,000 units,” said Rebecca Ragsdale, a planning manager in Albemarle County.
Ragsdale said a minimum of 227 units would be required to be rented or sold below market to eligible households but there could be more depending on build-out.
Charlottesville City Council adopted an affordable housing plan in March 2021 that calls for $10 million a year in investment in programs and initiatives to expand the amount of units that are guaranteed to be rented or sold to people with incomes below sixty percent of the area median income.
On Tuesday, the city announced it is seeking proposals from groups for city funding to help subsidize the cost of major projects.
“This application process is open to those multi-family affordable housing development projects, proposed to be located within City limits, that may be requesting significant investment consideration for which developers may be desiring to ask the City to assist with gap funding,” reads the press release for the announcement.
First, Council was asked to appropriate $565,000 from the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). That’s part of a larger pot that Councilor Michael Payne alluded to earlier.
“There’s currently about $2.3 million of unallocated ARP money,” said Chris Cullinan, the city’s finance director.
Charlottesville has many tools in the effort to ensure some residential units in the city that are below-market. Two of them date back to 2007.
One is the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund, which has disbursed $46.7 million in funds since 2010 according to a report Council was briefed on this past April. (Deputy City Manager Sanders reviews recent audit of Charlottesville’s housing fund, April 6, 2022)
The other is a 2007 loan to the Piedmont Housing Alliance to assist Woodard Properties in acquiring Dogwood Housing.
“In 2007, Council at that time extended a loan in the amount of $850,000 for the acquisition of 57 residential units to be maintained as rental properties,” said Sam Sanders, the Deputy City Manager.
It is fairly common for planned developments in the community to become controversial. A plan to build 245 units in three apartment buildings in the floodplain along East High Street is attracting a lot of opposition, including a filing on October 4 with the Federal Emergency Management Agency challenging a recent flood map amendment.
Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services hosted a site plan review conference on October 5 to give members of the public the chance to have their say, even if the project is allowed under the city’s rules.
“Our team is excited about the opportunity to create a high-quality, multifamily residence at this strategic location in Charlottesville,” said Gray Poole, a partner with the Selwyn Property Group of Charlotte, North Carolina.