Money is moving on Charlottesville affordable housing projects.
The City Council has approved distributing $2.4 million from the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund to the local Habitat for Humanity, the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program and the private affordable housing development Carlton Views.
“I have some questions about the accountability piece for the organizations applying for funding,” Mayor Nikuyah Walker said during Monday’s council meeting. “I just want to make sure we put something in place to ensure that when we are investing taxpayers’ dollars that there’s quality, even though these are much-needed services.”
Walker had received several complaints from residents of Carlton Views, and Councilor Wes Bellamy had gone there earlier Monday to hear from residents in person.
Stacy Pethia, the city’s housing program coordinator, said she had heard some concerns about Carlton Views, as well, and had spoken with Fountainhead Properties, which is developing the site.
“Inspectors did go out and inspect the property, and things are being fixed on the exterior of the building, definitely,” Pethia said. “[Fountainhead Properties is] not happy with the property management company that they’re working with.”
The final phase of Carlton Views will receive $1,440,000 from the CAHF. The planned apartment building will house 12 people making less than 40 percent of the area median income and another 36 people making less than 60 percent of AMI.
Councilors’ concerns extended beyond Carlton Views. Walker also said she had heard from residents of Habitat properties but had addressed those issues with Habitat President Dan Rosensweig.
Walker also said she had personal concerns about AHIP. She previously has alleged that AHIP’s repair work on her home was of poor quality and that the costs of the repairs were inflated.
AHIP’s project, which was awarded $375,000, will help low-income homeowners with critical home repairs. Habitat will use its $585,000 CAHF award toward a down-payment assistance program, a rental-to-homeownership program in gentrifying neighborhoods and to building 16 affordable homes in existing market-rate neighborhoods.
The awards are coming out of a larger pool of funding than in previous years. In 2017, the council decided to double the city’s annual commitment to CAHF.
“This is obviously relatively new that this level of funding is going out every year. There are a few years of history here now, so you’re going to start to hear those things,” Councilor Heather Hill said in support of an accountability mechanism.
Hill was a nonvoting member of a subcommittee of the Housing Advisory Committee that met with city staff in June to review CAHF applications.
Councilor Kathy Galvin asked City Attorney John Blair whether the contract between the city and the recipients of the money could be amended to include regular inspections. Blair said his office would look into a clawback provision, which would require funding recipients to return part of the grant if they didn’t meet certain quality standards.
“The council, as part of the grant agreement, would ask that there’s an independent inspection, and then over a time period, in which the inspections would be conducted, there would be standards within the agreement to meet,” Blair said. “That’s typical in economic development agreements to have a clawback provision.”
After discussing other potential legal issues such as tenant privacy, the City Council voted, 3-2, to award funding to AHIP and Carlton Views, with Bellamy and Walker opposed. The resolution to award funding to Habitat passed unanimously.