Dogwood units to remain "affordable"

Dogwood units to remain "affordable"

Thanks to an $850,000 loan from the City of Charlottesville, 57 units of Dogwood Housing will remain affordable for the next five years. But after those five years, will all of the units stay in the cheap-housing pool? Even without a guarantee, members of City Council believe they will.
Council approved the five-year, no-interest loan to the Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) at its September 4 meeting. PHA will then send the money to Keith Woodard, who is buying Dogwood. The loan specifies that Woodard must lease 57 units to families with a household income of 80 percent or less of the area median income for the five-year lease term.

Both Mayor David Brown and Councilor Dave Norris say that they trust Woodard to keep the units affordable beyond the five-year loan, which can be extended another five years at the end of its term.

"He’s a pretty straight-shooting guy," Brown says about Woodard, a major player in Charlottesville’s rental market who is also looking to develop a nine-story building on the Downtown Mall. "When he says it’s his intention that he will keep these units affordable for the foreseeable future, I believe that’s his intent."

Keith Woodard will keep Dogwood housing affordable for at least five years—and probably more, say city councilors.

Without Woodard stepping in to buy the Dogwood Housing properties, which are scattered around several city neighborhoods, from Eugene Williams, the affordable-housing units would most likely have been rented at market value.

Councilor Dave Norris, an affordable-housing advocate, says that while he would have preferred a longer commitment than five years, he understands why Woodard was unable to make one. "It’s hard for him to make [a longer-term commitment] legally binding," says Norris, "primarily because many of his financing streams have a five-year window."

"He has a reputation for hanging on to his properties, and that’s reassuring," says Brown. "Some people are constantly buying and selling. He tends to acquire."

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