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I’ll start with the rough news: A child was shot at Cavalier Crossing apartments, near Azalea Park just off 5th Street, on Wednesday night.

Albemarle County Police called the shooting, “an isolated incident involving a drug deal.” First responders took the child to UVA Medical Center. Albemarle County Police have made no arrests and ask anyone with information to either call Detective Garrett Moore at 434-296-5807 or Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000 or crimestoppers [AT] albemarle [DOT] org.

An old, yellowing mobil home sits on the right side of a narrow street across from a new, much larger single family home.
Credit: Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

If securing decent, affordable housing in Central Virginia has ever been an issue for you or someone you know, take a few minutes to complete this survey. 

Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties are granted nearly $1.2 million in federal tax money every year to address housing related issues. There are a lot of things this money can be spent on, so the groups receiving it are looking for guidance from community members. Is affordable housing more important or sidewalk repairs? Should the group invest in youth programs or gang prevention? The survey will remain open until Sunday.

How should Central Virginia spend $1 million in housing-related funding? Area consortium wants community input

The quest to address the affordable housing issues in this area is something we report on a lot. Skyrocketing housing costs are making it difficult not just for low-income, but also middle-income families to afford to live in or near the city. This is perhaps best exemplified when you look at people who are employed by our local governments. They can’t afford to live here with the salaries they get. Our local police foundation even has a program to help officers buy homes in Charlottesville, which — with a starting salary of just $50,000 — would be otherwise out of reach.

We last wrote about that program in 2017.

A man in a police officer's uniform and a woman in a blue dress stand on either side of a toddler in a red shirt. They are in front of a three story, brick house, smiling at the camera.
Credit: Courtesy: Charlottesville Police Foundation and Todd McNerney

Charlottesville Police Foundation helps officers ‘put down roots’ in Charlottesville

Since then, the problem has only gotten worse. In 2020, we took a detailed look at who could afford to live in the city and how much they were paying. What we found then was that about 17,000 Charlottesville families earning low to middle income wages were paying more than 30% of their income on housing, which many economists say is too high for families to reasonably cover other essential expenses.

A man stands before a bookshelf looking at an open book in his hand.

Affordable for whom?

In the three years since that article ran, it’s clear that many of those lower income families have left the city. How do we know this? The median household incomes in this area have increased — a lot. Between 2021 and 2022, the area median income jumped 19% for a family of four in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties, from $93,700 to $111,200.

The folks we talked with for our most recent story about area median income had multiple theories about why this is happening. The most common was that very high income earners — perhaps with remote jobs — moved to Charlottesville during the pandemic, and people who earn less money left.

An older, yellow home sits in the foreground in front of a new apartment complex visible behind it.
Credit: Credit: Erin O’Hare/Charlottesville Tomorrow

In the Charlottesville area, the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting pushed out

This is one of the key issues Charlottesville officials are trying to address by re-writing the city’s zoning codes. We’ve written about this a lot, too. Basically, officials plan to “upzone” the entire city, allowing for higher density development — everywhere. There’s disagreement about whether increasing housing density (which would allow more people to live here) will do anything for housing prices, so the proposed new zoning ordinance also includes rules and incentives for developers to build lower-cost units.

The first draft of the new zoning code — along with a detailed map — came out last week. If you haven’t yet, officials are still seeking community feedback.

A map of a city shows different areas colored in various shades or orange, purple and teal.
Credit: Screenshot from Cville Plans Together

Charlottesville’s draft zoning map is out — and the city wants to know what you think of it

Finally, some personal news: This spring, we’ll have a new CEO! Giles Morris is stepping down in April, and our Editor-in-Chief Angilee Shah will replace him. We’ll miss Giles and his unrelenting drive to bring sustainable and equitable journalism to this community. But what he built will continue. I’ve worked with Angilee now for 14 months, and I can tell you that her vision for people-centered, community-driven journalism is exactly what this newsroom and this community needs.

Thanks for reading,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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Jessie Higgins

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.