Apartments for the Homeless Opening this Month

The area’s first housing complex for the chronically homeless will accept its first tenants in a couple of weeks, Graham Moonmaw writes in the Daily Progress. The Crossings, at the corner of Preston and Fourth, has sixty units, half of which are meant to house people who are medically vulnerable and have been homeless on a long-term basis, and the other half are for people with annual incomes below $27,250. They’re studio apartments, just 360 square feet apiece, and are equipped with basic furnishings, a simple kitchen, and a bathroom. The city bought the real estate two years ago, for $1.55M, and has sold it to Virginia Supportive Housing for the same amount, with no payment due for thirty years. (The Richmond-based organization runs similar facilities in Richmond and Hampton Roads.) The city will provide $170k/year to subsidize it—$130k from federal funds, $40k from the Charlottesville Housing Fund—and Albemarle will contribute, as well. The building will have six staffers on site most days, and has all of the security amenities of a modern apartment complex.

22 Responses to “Apartments for the Homeless Opening this Month”


  • The segment of the homeless population with which I can empathize the most is the children of homeless parents, yet this complex consists solely of studio units?? Whose bright idea was that? And $6.7M/60 units = $112,000 per unit/360 square feet = $310 per square foot. For basic accommodations that seems excessively high to me.
    I’m also not sure giving each resident their own thermostat makes sense (who, btw is paying the utilities?). My poorest neighbor is currently, on this glorious March day of 75 degrees, running their air conditioning. Makes me want to go over and pull the electrical disconnect. If I was paying a share of their electric bill I just might.

  • “Whose bright idea was that? ”

    Our moronic former mayor. I’ll let you guess which one.

    That is prime real estate on one of the most important corners in town gone totally to waste.

  • The waste of real estate is that much worse when you realize it could have been built: above parking at the County Office Building across the street, above parking at the Jefferson School just down the street, within the City Yard next door. Why the City felt it needed to spend $1.5M for a tax-generating building it would then pay to tear down is beyond me.
    Just out of curiosity, was there a pilot program of 5 or 6 units to see if this would even work long term?

  • $310 a square foot? Condos in Chicago are going for $278. I say buy them a condo in Chicago and save some money.

    Ohhhhh….wait. its Democrats, all about spending other peoples money. If they actually knew how to do so wisely they would be…..well…..

  • I beg to differ Boss…I think it was the current moronic mayor. Remember the Preston Commons project that tanked a few years back? That was Huja’s baby all the way.

  • I’m relieved. that someone I know will not have to sleep in her car anymore

  • Completely excessive. The homeless needs should be simply about humanitarian survival in decency, especially for the children, encouraging and supporting a way back to a productive working life. This is what would make a rational person want to vote for Ron Paul. Sad but we’re there now: The TSA, VIPER, massively unsupported wars by the general public and now, locally, this.

  • Actually Dave Norris is the one who did the leg work to bring Virginia Supportive Housing here by issuing an RFP that VSH helped to write. VSH and City Hall held a number of meetings in private and the project as it exists today is not the same as what it started out being. For example, a month or two ago, minimum rent for the homeless was to be $50 and the market rate apartments were $525. In the very beginning all tenants had to be employed before they moved in. $50/mo does not indicate employment. The county’s contribution is in the form of Section 8 vouchers supported by federal, not local,funds. I will guarantee you that the set up they will have when they open this month will not be the set up two years from now. There really isn’t anyway for VSH to generate income except from rents and services paid for with government funds including Medicaid so the staff will need the city to kick in more money when they wish a raise.
    Although VSH is supposed to have similar facilities in much larger cities in Virginia, the story is still out on their longterm success. I doubt if Richmond, Norfolk and portsmouth will be as willing as we are to use local funds to bail VSH out. It’s also funny that Charlottesville decided to build as many units as those much larger localities.
    As for homeless children, their parents a eligible to apply for public housing and there is no shortage of that in the city. The city is running about 15 – 20 vacancies each month.

  • Proof please that public housing is running about 15-20 vacancies each month.

  • I’m pretty confident that this is going to be a success. This is one of those topics that makes me want to create a “Long Bets” section of the site, where folks can put money up (with a designated charity recipient) on potential outcomes of things like this. I forecast that, a few years from now, the facility will be at or near capacity, that it will result in reduced homelessness in Charlottesville, and that the individuals who live there will have significantly improved outcomes versus those who are still homeless.

    It’s also great to see an apartment complex on Preston Avenue. Right now Preston is (almost?) exclusively commercial, and that’s not healthy.

  • Anytime you create an unbalanced situation such as this, whereas some can get better treatment by doing less, it can never be deemed ‘successful’. If your bet is that it’ll be sold as a success, and possibly even bought by the gullible public as a success, then you may be right. But perception is not reality, even though that too has been sold as if it were.

  • Malcolm Gladwell’s “Million-Dollar Murray” provides an interesting perspective on this. It’s worth reading.

  • Anytime you create an unbalanced situation such as this, whereas some can get better treatment by doing less, it can never be deemed ‘successful’.

    You’re out of your mind if you think that anybody is going to live on the streets for years—long enough to become chronically homeless, and thus qualify—in order to one day save money on rent.

    As Malcolm Gladwell explained in “Million-Dollar Murray” (thank you, Jim), it’s often straight-up cheaper to provide the chronically homeless housing. We can pay in increased healthcare costs, we can pay in increased taxes, , but one way or another, we’re gonna pay. So let’s keep costs down. See also: wet houses and lowering medical costs by giving the neediest patients aggressive, free preventative care. Sometimes the most aggressive path is the cheapest. That might mean giving free medical care to people who treat their bodies recklessly, it might mean allowing fall-down drunks to just be fall-down drunks, and that might mean just giving the homeless apartments.

  • Hey Waldo, do you have access to 2004 Progress archives for a story titled something like, “Homeless Man Had Asked for Help?” It offered an anecdote that personalizes the issue the city and county and nonprofits are trying to address. The story was about a man with a substance abuse problem who couldn’t stay at Salvation Army, but who wasn’t so dependent that he qualified for the Mo Mohr Center. He died alone behind a dumpster in the city about a week after telling the paper that he wished he had somewhere to go.

  • You guys need to remember that some of these folks have mental disorders. They might prefer the great outdoors because they’re paranoid of any type of incorrectly perceived control. BTW, at first blush I’d be inclined to take some action on the “long bets” against…but you’d never hear city hall admitting a mistake or failure, so I could never win. A sucker bet for sure!

  • You’re out of your mind if you think that anybody is going to live on the streets for years—long enough to become chronically homeless, and thus qualify—in order to one day save money on rent.

    Where did I say that?

    I am a fervent believer in providing a helping hand. I think I stated that clearly above (“The homeless needs should be simply about humanitarian survival in decency, especially for the children, encouraging and supporting a way back to a productive working life.”)

    But what I object to, strongly, is government selectively choosing who, of the 60 out of the 223 identified homeless, will get the $310 per square foot studio apartment and who will not. The opportunities for abuse and exploitation are clearly there.

    More so, trying to ‘normalize’ their situation with a downtown apartment will more often than not be counter-productive, as the incentive to be independent will be lessened. Unless, maybe, an abusive manager/guard or whatnot gets what he wants so she can stay there?

    To me, clean shelters, good soup kitchens and public counselors, are a much smarter way to go. That’s not “out of my mind”.

  • From the article referenced above:

    “The first place we had he brought over all his friends, and they partied and trashed the place and broke a window. Then we gave him another apartment, and he did the same thing.”

    Post said that the man had been sober for several months. But he could relapse at some point and perhaps trash another apartment, and they’d have to figure out what to do with him next.”

    We also believe that the distribution of social benefits should not be arbitrary. We don’t give only to some poor mothers, or to a random handful of disabled veterans. We give to everyone who meets a formal criterion, and the moral credibility of government assistance derives, in part, from this universality. But the Denver homelessness program doesn’t help every chronically homeless person in Denver. There is a waiting list of six hundred for the supportive-housing program; it will be years before all those people get apartments, and some may never get one.

  • “The first place we had he brought over all his friends, and they partied and trashed the place and broke a window. Then we gave him another apartment, and he did the same thing.”
    May I suggest that if a resident of our new facility trashes his apartment that he/she be relocated to the slightly less lavish housing complex out on Avon just past 64? At the very least they should go to the end of the line for future free apartments. Having a waiting list for such aid while some overindulge in society’s generosity seems counter-productive.
    Part of the problem with transferring the ownership/operation of this facility to a private enterprise lies in the fact that should a tenant see fit to strip the copper from their apartment and sell it for scrap, prosecuting or even punishing them for this behavior will fall to an organization with a vested interest in covering it up rather than to a representative of the people who’ve paid for these accommodations. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

  • Sure seems to me that if there is along waiting list we cold put in those who are doing the most/best with their lives. The allowing smoking/drinking does bother me. Smoking particularly is a very expensive hobby that will decrease the value of a rental. Drinking for someone with homelessness/income issues sure seems like an issue as well.

    Why bother with those? Put in non-smokers who save their money for something beside smokes. If they want so much freedom, do what it takes to make your own decisions. But I feel it is similar to living in my house. If I am paying the bills, then you need to follow some rules. You don’t like the rules, pay your own bills.

  • Any landlord who allows smoking in their property is choosing to actively devalue the property.

  • …Or is that “passively” devalue? [wink]

  • Touché, Christian.

    Also – have the operators of the Crossings thought about this – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/third-hand-smoke/AN01985 ?

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