At their meeting on July 20, 2009, the Charlottesville City Council allocated $929,143 from the Charlottesville Housing Fund to various projects. One of the beneficiaries is Virginia Supportive Housing , which has now received a total of $500,000 to purchase a site near downtown for a proposed 60-unit Single Room Occupancy (SRO) facility.

The allocations came from money previously set aside in both the FY2009 and FY2010 budgets.

In FY2009, the Charlottesville City Council invested $1.4 million into the Charlottesville Housing Fund. Non-profit organizations that work on increasing the community’s stock of affordable housing submit applications to fund various projects. Most of the money appropriated for FY2009 has now been allocated.

On May 18, 2009, Council made the following allocations totaling $855,000.

The allocation for AHIP was reduced by $144,637 at Council’s meeting on July 6, 2009. That funding was given to Habitat for Humanity for the creation of two LEED-certified units as part of a development on Paton Street.

On July 20, 2009, Council was asked how to spend the FY2009 balance of $545,000. Here are the recommendations made by Jim Tolbert, Director of Neighborhood Development Services:

Tolbert also began preparing Council for the process of allocating money for FY2010. Council appropriated $1 million to the fund for this Fiscal Year, and Tolbert had the following recommendations, which were approved by Council.

That leaves a balance of $575,000 for FY2010 that Tolbert said would be handled through the usual process where non-profits submit proposals for the City’s consideration.

Virginia Supportive Housing receives $500,000 to pay for purchase of site

Virginia Supportive Housing is negotiating with Region 10 to purchase this site on Fourth Street to build a 60-unit SRO facility

With these allocations, Virginia Supportive Housing has received a total of $500,000 from the City to help them purchase a site for a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) facility with 60 units. Earlier in the meeting, Council approved a zoning ordinance change to allow SRO units to be built in more locations throughout the City.  VSH is looking to purchase the “Fourth Street Station” building from Region 10 for $1.5 million, according to City Attorney Craig Brown.

Councilor David Brown wanted to know what other localities in the region are contributing to the SRO project.  Norris said the total development costs for the SRO are estimated to be in the $8 million range. In addition to the $500,000 being sought from the City, VSH is looking for $1 million in commitments from Albemarle County and other surrounding localities.  Norris said VSH expects to raise additional money from foundations, state funds, federal low-income tax credits and bank loans.

Norris said the SRO will also need to find funds to pay for ongoing operations, currently estimated at $468,000 a year.  On that front, he said Albemarle County is considering offering up between eight and fifteen Section 8 rental vouchers, and Region 10 has agreed to contribute some as well.  To give a sense of perspective, Norris said the County gets about 400 vouchers a year.

“Our hope is that between Albemarle County and Region 10, they will contribute a significant majority of the annual operating funds for this project,” Norris said.

Brown said he was skeptical that those promises would materialize into commitments. He said he wanted to put a contingency in the resolution to say that City funding depends on participation from Albemarle County and other regional partners. Norris said he did not have a problem with that.  The resolution was changed to say that the City expects to see these commitments.  [Earlier this year Charlottesville Tomorrow published an in-depth comparison of the investments, inventory, and proffers for affordable living choices made in both Albemarle and Charlottesville]

City to create new position for housing

With these allocations, a total of $170,000 has been committed to pay for a new City position that will have the title “Housing Leader.”  Councilor Satyendra Huja asked why the amount was so high. Tolbert said the additional funding for the housing position is to make sure there is at least enough to pay for two years. The person hired for the position will supervise the City’s affordable housing strategies. Mayor Dave Norris said it was his hope that the person hired will be able to generate enough revenue to pay their own salary within that two year period.

City to pay for utility work for EcoMOD project

Site of UVA’s EcoMOD4 project on Elliot Avenue

The University of Virginia’s fourth EcoMOD project house is being built near the corner of Ridge/5th Street and Cherry Avenue. The house is being built for the Habitat for Humanity. However, there have been unexpected issues regarding clearing the site for foundation and utility work.

“What they’re finding is stuff that the City many, many years ago put on that lot which we didn’t even own at the time,” Tolbert said. “I think it’s a reasonable thing for us to help clean it up.” The cost of cleaning it is estimated at $30,000.  Councilor Satyendra Huja suggested increasing the amount for the EcoMOD4 house from $10,000 to $25,000, which was approved by Council.