CHRA looks to build new housing

CHRA looks to build new housing

The Charlottesville Housing Authority will soon take its first foray into the housing market by
building about 30 new homes on this site on Levy Avenue near Belmont.

After years of tumult, the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority seems to be stable and moving toward some long-stalled projects.
Last summer, the City hired Noah Schwartz, formerly director of the anti-poverty Monticello Area Community Action Agency, to lead the Housing Authority. Sources inside the Housing Authority say the beleaguered agency, which manages Charlottesville’s 376 public housing units, finally has a director with strong local ties capable of getting things done amidst the Authority’s notoriously cantankerous political environment.
One of the first major projects for the Housing Authority is construction of new housing units on a parking lot on Levy Avenue near Belmont. It would be the CHRA’s first foray into the construction of market-rate housing. Former Director Paul Chedda tried to implement the Levy project in previous years, but it fell by the wayside as he fell into conflict with the CHRA board of directors.
In July, the Authority expects to send out a request for proposals for architectural designs for about 30 units on the site, with at least half available for purchase by low-income families (perhaps including some of the Authority’s current tenants, says Schwartz). All the homes would be sold at market rate, with grants or a local housing trust fund helping subsidize mortgagees for low-income buyers. (It will have to be a hefty sum—Schwartz says the average annual income of a public housing tenant in Charlottesville is $11,000).
Further on the horizon for the CHRA will be renovation of Westhaven, the City’s oldest and largest public housing site. The CHRA estimates the Hardy Drive neighborhood needs at least $10 million in repairs, and Schwartz confirms that City officials hope to partner with one or more of the big developers who own land around that site (they include Coran Capshaw and Bill Atwood) on a major redevelopment project at Westhaven. Nothing has been decided, however, and nothing will happen at Westhaven until the Housing Authority conducts community meetings to get input from residents, says CHRA board member and City Councilor Kendra Hamilton.—John Borgmeyer

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