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Friday, June 2, 2023

Across town, Charlottesville is rebuilding its public housing communities.

It started a couple years ago. Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority raised some $30 million in taxpayer and private money to renovate and rebuild two of its public housing communities. (The final price tag will be higher.) One is Crescent Halls, which offers 105 homes for seniors; the other is South First Street, which will eventually house around 175 families with low incomes. The properties are owned by CRHA, and residents’ rents are subsidized by government housing programs.

Both those projects are well underway, and CRHA (a quasi governmental organization that is privately run but overseen by a board that City Council appoints) is holding ribbon cutting ceremonies next week.

Woman in hard hat and mask speaks into microphone with sign behind her that reads, "South Street Revitalization"
Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to hold ribbon cutting for public housing redevelopments

The other public housing community being rebuilt is Friendship Court, a project that will eventually cost in the range of $150 million. Though it’s happening around the same time, Friendship Court actually has a different owner: Piedmont Housing Alliance. (Several of the communities Charlottesville considers public housing are owned by different organizations.)

That said, these three projects have a lot in common: The organizations are each involving the residents in decision making. The residents had a lot of input with Friendship Court.

One big change residents made? The name.

Five people stand at the landscaped entrance to a parking lot, with mulch under their feet. One young man looks on while someone paints tree branches on a freshly-painted brick column and three others hang up a banner that reads "Kindlewood: The heart of the city" on a metal fence. There are apartment buildings and cars in the background.
Credit: Wes Myhre/Piedmont Housing Alliance

After decades dealing with stigma, Friendship Court residents decide to rename their community

A quick interruption here from our newsroom fish, America! Yes, he lives in the newsroom, and he’s been watching our efforts to cover housing and gain 100 new or renewing supporters last month. Guess what — you did it! One hundred and four of you stepped up for local and independent journalism in Charlottesville. We can’t do this work without you. Thank you.

An orange banner with a fish saying, "thank you" and the text, "We made it! 104 new and renewing supporters joined us in May, to help keep local news strong."

Back to the news: Another public housing community up for redevelopment in Charlottesville is Midway Manor. That apartment building for seniors with low incomes and people with disabilities has a new owner, Standard Communities, a corporation that owns public housing communities across the country. When Standard Communities purchased the aging and deteriorating structure in early 2022, it promised to completely rebuild the community. And CRHA helped them raise nearly $30 million in bond money to do it.

When will that happen? How will it happen? We’re not quite sure. Since taking the property, residents, local officials and Charlottesville Tomorrow reporters have struggled to reach the new owners. The promised start date for construction came and went. Last we heard, Standard Communities was looking for a new way to fund the rebuild (the organization will have to repay the bonds), and hoped to begin this summer.

We’ll be following all of these projects as they happen — or don’t. If you have any questions about public housing in Charlottesville, hit reply to this email and we’ll do our best to find answers!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.