Monday’s City Council meeting will be the final time councilors Wes Bellamy, Kathy Galvin and Mike Signer will participate before councilor-elects Sena Magill, Michael Payne and Lloyd Snook take their seats on the dais in January 2020. It also has a relatively thin agenda with a few reports, two appropriations, one resolution and a consent agenda to wrap up some ongoing business.
The consent agenda includes two appropriations — to allocate funding for the Home to Hope program to a different government office as a result of moving the program, and for the city to supplement $41,000 of the commonwealth attorney’s operating budget to the Charlottesville Victim Witness Assistance Program Grant.
Back in February, the council appropriated $405,000 to the Department of Human Services from the Equity Fund to create Home to Hope, a peer support services program. The program will be staffed by people who have had a “lived experience” with the criminal justice system and aims to increase the peer support to people reentering the community after being incarcerated.
Fund-wise, $30,000 was set to create a peer support training program, $275,000 will go towards establishing a Home to Hope Peer Navigator Unit with five full-time staff members and $100,000 will be available as aid for returning citizens’ unique needs such as clothing, first month’s rent and security deposit, transportation and health care.
As a result of training, which ran from mid-August to October, four people were hired as Peer Navigators in the Home to Hope program. Both City Manager Tarron Richardson and Mayor Nikuyah Walker decided to move the four employees from Human Services to the Office of Economic Development.
“It is a good fit for us because of the downtown work center and the work that we do,” said Hollie Lee, chief of workforce development strategies in the Office of Economic Development.
The four employees for Home to Hope have been in their new office space for about four weeks and Lee said the program eventually aims to include support groups.
“They understand what it is like to have been incarcerated and can really help clients walk that path,” Lee said. “The support groups would be facilitated by our staff who have been trained but have that lived experience of knowing what it’s like to be in their shoes.”
As for the other appropriation, Charlottesville has received $224,024 for its victim grant through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, so the city’s supplemental $41,000 brings the funds up to $265,024. The grant funds help to provide assistance and advocacy for victims of crimes, such as information and support during criminal justice proceedings and access to compensation or restitution.
Also in the consent agenda
Also on the consent agenda are various resolutions that include capital funding transfer for the Rugby Avenue Trail project; a memorandum of understanding that could add University of Virginia to the Regional Transit Partnership; support for a capital improvement funding request to the General Assembly by Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center; approval for Richardson’s selection as the alternate person to serve on the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail Authority and Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Commission; and resolutions presented by the Local Energy Alliance Program.
Over the summer, Charlottesville Tomorrow reported on the formation of a pilot program drafted by LEAP and Charlottesville Climate Collaborative. Dubbed VEEP — the Housing Voucher Energy Efficiency Pilot — the program incentivizes landlord’s accepting of housing vouchers through upgrading infrastructure to be more environmentally friendly and energy reducing. The projected benefits include increasing the amount of rental options for voucher-holding residents while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and energy use in residences and lessening the energy cost burden for low income residents.
“As climate advocates, we want to see people living in the communities where they work,” C3 Executive Director Susan Kruse said at the time.
LEAP Executive Director Chris Meyer is expected to present to the council.
At Monday’s council meeting, LEAP is expected to request approval for VEEP along with the revision of a grant agreement to continue its work for the city as well as take into consideration the scope of work for VEEP.
Since the announcement of the pilot program over the summer, Meyer said interest for participants has been generating.
“We know of a handful ready to participate once the Council approves the VEEP and some have already contacted CRHA about being certified to accept their vouchers,” Meyer said. “Once Council approves the VEEP modification to our contract, we can start installing the energy-efficiency measures with landlords who have been certified by CRHA and reducing energy bills for their low-income and voucher receiving tenants.”
The consent agenda also features the first of two readings for an amendment to the city’s code to add Christmas Eve as a holiday and a request to change the name of the Recreation Precinct, which has the Key Recreation Center as its polling place, to the Key Recreation Precinct.
Reports & resolutions
Outside of the consent agenda is the reading and adoption of a Regional Transit Plan, to be presented by Charlottesville Area Transit Director Garland Williams. The Virginia Department of Rail and Transit requires local transit development plans once every six years.
The presentation will detail the plan, developed by Foursquare ITP and Michael Baker International, that among its key findings indicate that CAT ridership is down from previous years.
“[L]ow unemployment, sustained lower gas prices, and perhaps most importantly, the increasing availability, affordability and popularity of alternative mobility options such as bicycles and app-based ride-hailing services are all combining to reduce demand for transit,” it notes.
It further adds that “these new options create a challenge, in the form of competition, for traditional transit operators like CAT, but they also create opportunities by allowing transit providers to better align their services with market demands.”
The plan also identifies projects, expansions and capital expenditures that the Charlottesville Area Transit system anticipates pursuing over a 10-year period.
For more short-term suggestions, it recommends measures such as a regional transit planning tool to allow users to have real-time information like vehicle locations for CAT, JAUNT, UTS and Greene County Transit Services. It also suggests regional mobile ticketing and Route 29 Rapid Bus Transit.
The plan reads indicates that through a regional partnership between CAT, JAUNT and UVA, that JAUNT’s 29 Express brand “could evolve into limited-stop Bus Rapid Transit service to provide relief to CAT’s heavily used Route 7.”
Also on the agenda are two reports, the first, a report from the McGuffey Art Center, and the second will be an audit report for the fiscal year of 2019 from the city auditor.