The Charlottesville City Council Affordable Housing Work Session on October 9, 2008 demonstrated the Council’s desire to focus their attention on affordable housing in the upcoming year. The session began with Stu Armstrong, Executive Director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) quickly walking council through what PHA could do with $500,000 a year if the City directed it towards them to achieve their housing goals.
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Armstrong demonstrated that the amount would not be enough to preserve or produce the 600 units his organization is targeting. Armstrong then suggested that through a Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, the City could help PHA to raise money in the form of loans from philanthropists to fund mixed income condominiums and other creative housing models that banks usually shy away from. This money could then be leveraged to help PHA achieve their targets.
Next, Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert updated the City Council on the status of the money that had been spent for affordable housing projects in 2008. Melissa Celii , Grants Coordinator for the Department of Neighborhood Development Services presented key policy recommendations of the joint task force on affordable housing. The findings represented the general consensus that had been reached as to what will go before the Albemarle & Charlottesville housing committees. The committees will then make comments and suggestions after which the task force will make changes and bring their final findings to City Council for consideration.
Tolbert then presented four draft housing policy documents that the joint task force has put together. They include the Priorities for use of CAHIP Funds, Incentives the City can provide to Private Sector Development with Affordable Housing Units, Objectives for Use of Affordable Housing Funds and Criteria/Priorities for Award of Funds, and Criteria for Awarding Multi-Family Incentive Funds/Strategic Investment Funds. The Council had some discussion of the specific wording and organization of the documents.
raised a concern regarding where recipients of this funding would be required to live. Mayor
raised the issue of fairness in how grant money was approved last year, which included funding for one Charlottesville family to buy a home in Louisa.
In the discussion as to whether to use regional or city incomes in calculating Average Median Income (AMI), Councilor
said, “I think if we use the city number, that comes closer to leveling out the playing field.”
Mayor Norris mentioned that Charlottesville could use a City Housing Planner and that the creation and funding of such a position would be discussed in the near future. Councilor Satyendra Huja suggested that the position be funded through these funds so as not to further burden City taxpayers.
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