City to Formalize “Huja’s Slush Fund”

In the latest C-Ville Weekly, Will Goldsmith uncovers the existence of what sounds like an accidentally secret grant program for affordable housing, at $250k/year. The Housing Initiatives Fund has been available for organizations that need a grant, and fast, if presented with a chance to buy a property to turn it into affordable housing. It was established by Satyendra Huja during his tenure with the city. The trouble is that the existence of the fund has never been advertised, and there’s no formalized application process. So while Piedmont Housing Alliance and Habitat for Humanity knew about the program, Albemarle Housing Improvement Program had no idea. Even Virginia Land Company (Charlie Hurt’s development firm) took advantage of the program. The organizations that tapped into the money said they figured everybody knew about it. Work began immediately to formalize the process once these problems became known to the city’s housing advisory committee last month.

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