Charlottesville: Housing Policy in the Aftermath of August 2017
Can some good come from evil? Last week, the Housing Virginia Board convened a meeting in Charlottesville with a group of housing providers, activists, and policymakers. We’ve heard a lot in the last year about exciting and innovative housing initiatives in the area. We wanted to get the story directly from people on the ground and have a chance to talk about how the events of August 2017 changed—or didn’t change—what the community is doing to address affordable housing.
The conversation was illuminating, inspiring, and challenging—one of the best we’ve had. Much is happening in Charlottesville that the rest of the state can learn from, including the creation of a new minority-driven CDC (New Hill Development Corporation) focused on equitable development and upward mobility. We also heard about new initiatives in public housing revitalization, mobile home park transformation, and mixed income housing, as well as the city’s consideration of housing bonds and zoning changes.
Charlottesville may be unique in addressing these problems, but the root causes are found in communities all over. We are at an inflection point that demands we redesign our housing policies and practices through the lens of racial equity. At the core is the wealth gap between black and white households. The largest component of a family’s budget remains housing, and homeownership is still the principal route to wealth for lower income families. So, housing must play an outsized role in addressing this disparity. Are we finally up to this challenge?
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