Saturday, January 24, 2009

Recommendations from City-County-UVa Affordable Housing Task Force

Back in the fall of 2007, the City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle and University of Virginia agreed (at the urging of IMPACT) to create a joint Task Force to explore ways to meet the growing demand for affordable housing throughout our region. (Full disclosure: I was briefly the City Council representative on the Task Force before becoming Mayor, at which point Satyendra Huja took my place.)

This past Thursday, the members of the Task Force released their final report, which can be found here. After much research, discussion and debate, the Task Force offered up the following recommendations to the City and County:

* Commit to a permanent, dedicated, annual funding investment in affordable housing
* Support the creation of a Regional Housing Fund to accept investments in affordable housing from both public and private sources
* Adopt or amend proffer policies to produce more affordable housing units available to families at extremely low-, very low-, and low-income levels
* Support the building of Single Room Occupancy housing
* Support and encourage the creation of security measures and supportive services in new and existing neighborhoods to ensure that affordable housing is safe and pleasant
* Promote the use of tax credits for developers by offering technical assistance
* Consider issuing general obligation bonds to fund affordable housing initiatives
* Provide funding for loans to developers of affordable housing
* Provide support for the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust
* Establish a Housing Ombudsman Office to serve both area residents and developers of affordable housing
* To the extent allowed by law, pay all employees, and strongly encourage their contractors to pay, a Living Wage
* Support regional transit networks and options
* Continue to support regional non-profits such as Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA), Habitat for Humanity, and the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) whose missions are to address affordable housing
* Review and remove unnecessary regulatory barriers that impact affordability including consideration of a streamlined approval process for developments that propose affordable housing units

The Task Force added the following recommendations specifically for consideration by the University of Virginia:

* Consider developing housing sites to provide higher density mixed income housing for graduate students and UVa employees including faculty and staff
* Continue to provide housing for all first-year students and housing options for other students
* To the extent allowed by law, pay all employees, and strongly encourage their contractors to pay, a Living Wage
* Support regional transit networks and options

Excellent ideas all. Now comes the hard part -- generating the political will to actually implement these recommendations so the report doesn't end up sitting on a shelf somewhere, gathering dust.


David Gilbertson said...

Having been raised in California and Hawaii, it seems to me that the root of the "affordable housing" issue here is simply unbridled gentrification. I don't care how many pots of money we establish, neither how well, nor how long they're funded, We'll never keep abreast of the insatiable greed of the fabulously wealthy in search of ever higher returns on "their" investment in OUR real estate!

Anonymous said...

To wit: As soon as they purchase a rental property they crank the rent through the roof...looking for the ever higher rate of return they think is their due.

Sooner than later, the working people and the young are leaving town in droves, trying to find a place to live. Santa Barbara lost so many young families that in late '70's they were tearing down the elementary schools and/or converting them to "community centers," as fast as they had been built in the 40's and 50's! Perhaps needlesstosay, the town that loses it's youth, loses it's future!