According to census data, we’ve got more renters than home owners in Charlottesville. In fact, we’re in the top cities in the state when it comes to having a high percentage of renters. No doubt UVa has something to do with this, but houses do cost a lot in this town. I imagine I’ll be renting for a long time to come. The news is from WINA.
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There is a tremendous demand for rental units in town in spite of City government elitist attempts to reduce the number of renters. In the early 90s the City downzoned over 5,000 parcels in order to stop the construction of new duplexes and multi-family units and also the conversion of existing single family houses into multi-family units. The goal was clear. They wanted to reduce the number of students and low-income people living in the city. The large percentage of rental units is a testimonial to the miserable failure of the City Council’s attempts to use their control over land use to exclude rental housing. Their efforts have backfired miserably. Restricting the supply of land zoned for higher density housing has only made conversion of single family owner occupied houses into rental units more lucrative. Strangling the supply of high density zoned lots has also helped to drive up the cost of single family units that may be attractive to potential home owners. Still, the City Council and staff are probably happy because the inflated values means more tax revenue.
Most renters don’t know that the City Council considers them undesirable. They either vote for the incumbents or they don’t vote at all and then they get shafted by a local government that treats them like second class citizens.
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