27 December 2006

Affordable Housing Alert!

Courtesy alert re: Post-Holiday Cville Council Agenda

City Council to Decide Fate of Affordable Housing Investment Proposals on Jan. 2

WHAT: Next Tuesday, Jan. 2, Charlottesville City Council will take into consideration a comprehensive set of proposals to consolidate, dedicate and expand funding for the development of affordable housing in our area. Citizens have repeatedly said that affordable housing is a major unmet need in our community, and this is our chance to make sure that Council gets the message that it's time to INVEST IN HOUSING!

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 2 -- arrive by 6:45pm in Council chambers (2nd floor of City Hall).
The Council meeting starts at 7:00pm and there will be a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. Supporters can either sign up to speak (limit: 3 minutes each), or just sit in the audience and wear one of the "INVEST IN HOUSING!" lapel stickers that will be handed out at the door. The more people who turn out, the bigger impact we'll have.

Absolutely. Just shoot a quick e-mail to all Councilors (via council@charlottesville.org) and let them know that you want to see more dollars invested in affordable housing. Encourage them to adopt the recommendations that they'll be considering at their Jan. 2 Council meeting.

In a nutshell, the proposals that Council will be considering would:

* double the amount of local funding available for affordable housing
development (which would still amount to less than 1% of the City's budget!)

* create dedicated, ongoing sources of financing for affordable

* target a variety of unmet housing needs in our community, from
supportive rental housing for the very low-income elderly and disabled, to
revitalization of public housing, to homeownership opportunities for low-income
residents, to workforce housing for moderate-income families

* institute measures to promote environmentally-friendly construction
and protect low-income neighborhoods from gentrification

* support a regional approach to affordable housing and encourage
greater City-County cooperation in this regard

In September 2006, Mary Brooks from the National Housing Trust Fund Project came to Charlottesville to lead a workshop for two dozen community leaders on strategies for creating a dedicated local fund for affordable housing (as hundreds of other localities have already done -- see http://www.policylink.org/EDTK/HTF/default.html). In November 2006, City Council's Housing Advisory Committee (comprised of representatives from affordable housing organizations, neighborhood advocates, business leaders and real estate professionals) unanimously adopted a proposal to create such a fund.

The Committee's full proposal can be downloaded here -- https://www.onlinefilefolder.com/index.php?action=getshare&type=0&user_num=13905&share_id=96604&hash=dafdee21db0ce6de60e1d9ba929ff8d6

A Daily Progress article on the proposal can be found here -- http://www.dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP/MGArticle/CDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149191908352

City Manager Gary O'Connell subsequently incorporated all of the provisions of this proposal into his recommendations to Council on strategic new directions for the City. Council reviewed the housing portion of these recommendations at a work session on Dec. 14 and agreed to take them into official consideration at a regular Council meeting in January. This discussion is the main item on the agenda for the Jan. 2 Council meeting.

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