City Planning Public Housing Redevelopment

Well, here’s a can of worms: The city is beginning the process of redeveloping its public housing, Hawes Spencer writes for The Hook, and everything is on the table. A series of community meetings are scheduled to determine what to do—demolish and rebuild, fix them up, or nothing—and no doubt they’ll be contentious gatherings. There’s no mistaking that our public housing stock is in rough shape, but with residents that are, for various reasons, often not engaged in the larger community, the road ahead for any redevelopment is perilous for everybody involved.

52 Responses to “City Planning Public Housing Redevelopment”

  • Yeah, but why the ominous kickoff. It’s a good thing that the city is going through all of the hard work of reaching something of a consensus. Back in the day, the authorities just built some modernist concrete slab, expected people to live in it, and often tore it down a few years later. However long it takes, I’d rather see this process as an opportunity to better the lives of some residents and the community as a whole.

  • Modernist concrete slab? I can’t think of any public housing in the U.S. like that. The un-slabby high rise stuff of the 1960s and 70s went down in the 90s, right? That’s not a few years, and much of it survives. The NYT ran a good article recently on Judge Sotomayor’s project in the Bronx. Like many gov’t things, it was planned and executed well but did not adapt to changing circumstances.

    Anyway, in Cville it was all courtyard buildings, AFAIK, depending on how you classify the retirement places. We’ll need a lot more of those soon. MJH would be perfect if anybody had any vision, but instead it will be whatever seems most profitable & amenable at the time.

    About your blog “Following the transportation dollars”, I keep telling people the CHO airport has lots of money from the passenger tax. Other cities I believe have tapped these funds for ground transpo projects. Our CHO just keeps thinking up ridiculous schemes to spend the money, and mowing the grass to perfection. Gazebos, traffic circles, entrance roads, lowering a state road by a few inches, and a proposed runway expansion, supported by consultants who determine what length runway will work in every atmospheric condition for various planes.

  • “what length runway will work in every atmospheric condition for various planes”

    That made me chuckle. I must say about the gazebo, though, I thought it was pretty silly at first, but I have seen people using it on two separate occasions. It’s a little nicety for smokers who are used to be simply booted out to the curb, and I imagine one of the intentions is too keep smokers away from the doors and main walkways. Not a bad idea.

  • Yes, a gazebo at each end of the runway for the smokers, that’s the ticket. Any seconds for this idea.

  • About your blog “Following the transportation dollars”, I keep telling people the CHO airport has lots of money from the passenger tax.

    My understanding is that the bulk of their income is generated by parking fees. But “my understanding” isn’t exactly solid fact, so if anybody knowledgeable can speak to this, I’d appreciate it. :)

  • Didn’t the city just revamp Garrett Sq., oops, I mean Friendship Court a few years ago? Tell you what, go look at Gilpin Court, or Blackwell in Richmond and C’ville’s no cost to you free housing for all looks like Beverly Hills. Oh, but that’s right. This is afterall, Charlottesville we’re talking about…The Beverly Hills of VA! Or should I say, Aspen, or Carmel, or some other “boutique” town.

  • Just for the record, Friendship Court is not city public housing. Its section 8 housing, meaning that the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development subsidizes rents for low-income tenants but the ownership of the housing remains private.
    Public housing is owned by the City of Charlottesville-Westhaven being the oldest, built in the late 60s after the tragic,unfortunate demolition of Vinegar Hill in the name of “urban renewal.”

  • The passenger tax being referred to is legally referred to by federal government as a passenger facility charge. Airlines collect PFC’s and remit to airports for authorized capital projects. PFC’s may not be used for operating expenses. PFC’s also end when the authorized project is completed. Most of the time, at least in CHO’s case, PFC provides the required local matching share of an FAA/State grant funded capital project.

    Mowing the grass to perfection? Trying to maintain a local entrance corridor to the community. Obviously this person doesn’t see all of the weeds, etc. that we don’t have to staff to deal with. Maybe doesn’t care about aesthetics, which is our number one customer compliment.

    Parking revenue is our primary source of revenue. Need to discuss in terms of acceptable & legal accounting practices-can’t mix operating expenses & capital development… well unless you want an airport Enron type of crisis.

    Consultants & types of planes? Tell that to the 42 people who got kicked off of just the Detroit flights last week due to weight restrictions.

    By the way, the gazebo was installed as the only authorized area for employees/tenants to smoke. Citizens complained about people standing near the doors and having to walk through the smoke. Where would “colfer” have us put the smokers? Back inside?

    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

  • Thank you for that information, Barbara.

  • For those that are interested will bring you up-to=date on the redevelopment process. As you can see, they’re at the front door, introducing the consultants to the locality. Of course they were the consultants for the east end Mall project and the re-design of McIntire Park, working with our own Maurice Cox.
    Since the Housing Authority has been rated by HUD as a “Troubled Site” since that lady executive director was chased out of town by the board headed up by our own Dave Norris. It is hoping to get a better evaluation from HUD, which it will need in order to get HUD’s participation in any future redevelopment project. Right now the redevelopment money is coming solely from local sources, about $310k of General Funds. It is paying for the residents to go on field trips to other redeveloped sites so that the residents cna see what other localities in good standing with HUD has been able to do in conjunction with other developers. Look up Gateway Crossings in Hagerstown MD with WRT to see pictures of examples of the new housing the city is considering.
    BTW, the City of Charlottesville does not own public housing. It serves as HUD’s local managing agent. And HollowBoy is right, Garrett Square, Blue Ridge Commons, Midway Manor, etc. are not publicly owned, just publicly subsidized with federal and local funds.
    I would not be surprised if it’s another 10 years before the city will come up with a plan for redevelopment that HUD would considering to approve. By that time, I suspect this project have lost its steam. I think a lot of the residents would like for CRHA learn how to manage safe and affordable rental housing before it endeavors to increase the number of rental units or sites.

  • There is new money available for disability housing but I guess C’ville won’t get any of it if it is in troubled status which is a real shame. I think a lot of the non-residents stuck in institutions and nursing homes would appreciate more accessibe public housing now, not a 10 year wait. But that’s just me.

  • @Alison Hymes, isn’t it wonderful that CRHA is not the only agency that can apply for funds for housing for the disabled (which I do support). PHA, Region Ten and the County of Albemarle are possible applicants. They would not be held accountable for the recent performance of CRHA.

  • Thanks for the info on Gateway Crossing, Cville Eye. WRT has an interesting site.

    Just found out that the meeting for our neighborhood (Woolen Mills) was held earlier this evening. The notice was very belated. Unfortunately that meant that none of us were given the opportunity to attend, offer support etc, to the residents. That gives a completely false impression that we’re not interested in the redevelopment effort that will be taking place in our own neighborhood.

    Hope any future planning opportunities will be more inclusive of the community.

  • Victoria, here is a link to the remaining meetings in this phase: I was really impressed with the outreach efforts by Amy Kilroy. It is my understanding that the public is invited to attend any and all of them.eceived an email from the City’s NDS late last week, I believe. I hope the new neighborhood alliance will make a point of getting involved.
    It is also my impression that there will be another round of community meetings to hear a summation of the ideas that were heard at these meetings. It was said at the last CRHA meeting that this project is expected to revitalize 7 city neighborhoods, whatever that means. Right now, it seems this initiative is totally financed by local tax money so I doubt if the public will be turned away.

  • Didn’t receive my NDS notice until the day before, but unfortunately didn’t check my email until the following day due to a particularly intense work schedule. 24 hours isn’t adequate notice.

    I agree though that Ms Kilroy’s letter makes it clear that she wants community involvement during the redevelopment process. That’s both refreshing and very heartening.

  • Please remember that Amy Kilroy is not in charge of the process.

  • Barbara Hutchinson, thanks for responing. I’m still wondering if other cities have used PFC funds for building transportation to the airport. Rail (or a busway) down 29 might not sound so crazy in 20 years, and the airport is perfectly situated at one end of that corridor to contribute funds! If the PFC is so munificent, it should doubtless be part of the local mass transit discussion, and so for it has not been.

    I mentioned gazebos and grass mowing as the low end of examples of the many projects the airport has undertaken. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice airport. And the runway would be a big expense. But everybody who goes up there finds the two traffic circles and multiple entrance roads just a tad bit amusing. Even the lowering Earlysville Road had a justification, but they all add up to projects that other gov’t and semi-gov’t agencies have had a hard time funding recently. And to some extent for three decades.

    So if we’re talking busways or rail, let’s talk federal Passenger Facility Charge funds. If possible.

  • Didn’t the city just finish overseeing/contracting out the renovatons to Fountain Court on Rose Hill Drive just last year? I believe that is public low income housing. seems to me there is always some type of renovation going on in public housing in Charlottesville.
    Since the city acts as an agent for HUD why is the city putting any money in the renovation at all? Since the city does not own any public housing per se…(owned by private enterprise)…Why not let the private enterprise owners and hud put the renovation money up and no local money involved at all. If HUD needs the city to oversee the renovations and make sure they meet various codes then the city should charge HUD and the private owners for this service.
    Just my .02.

  • No local money was used on public housing until Dave Norris assumed a seat on the CRHA board.
    Wait until the city gets its bill for the new 60 single occupancy units for the homeless that will be owned by Virginia Supportive Housing headquartered in Richmond. Council has already allocated $125k to help purchase the land. And this will not be the end of it. VSH has said it can raise only $4.2M and will need for the city to come up with the rest of the now projected $8M in costs. Of course, there will be funding for the services and councilors that will be on site, and since the minimum rent will be $50/month, there will be money for ongoing maintenance.

  • I went to a meeting where Virginia Supportive Housing presented, I was very unimpressed with their attitude and plans. The director was unwilling to listen to the wishes and concerns of the prospective residents who were at the meeting, she had a dismissive attitude towards the very people she proposes to help. No room mates or even spouses will be allowed to live with residents, neighbors will all be told ahead of time that “crazy” people are moving in, this is essentially a total institution masquerading as community housing and should not be allowed to be built. It is contrary to the Olmstead Decision on community integration and will ghettoize people with disabilities. I oppose it.

  • Unfortunately, the City has allowed VSH to have great influence in this project rather than putting out a bona fide Request For Proposal to allow for competition. It’s good to have friends in high places. This particular company has three installations already in VA. Has anyone looked to see if it is financially solvent, if its properties are well-maintained, if it is indeed providing successful services, or if its installations are integrated within the neighborhood or a source of many police calls? The city has gone a well-meaning but disasterous project called Ephitha Village at the end of Ridge Street for decades because somebody had friends in high places. Unfortunately, those 5 people that are handing out millions of dollars of tax money have absolutely no knowledge or how to do so.

  • I’ve heard from several people who were disturbed by the attitude of the VSH rep during meetings. Her attitude seemed to be that they know what they’re doing, thank you very much, and that’s that. No extraneous debate is necessary. That’s not a good sign, but only time will tell.

    I truly hope it all works out, but dread the horrendous amount of zoning clean-up, governmental backtracking, and finger-pointing that will ensue if it doesn’t. So much bad planning goes on in this City (with so much of the nitty-gritty happening behind the scenes), we’re constantly treading water to mitigate the damage caused by it.

  • I don’t hope it works out in this form. VSH also does scattered site housing in Richmond which was what I was hoping they would do here, not build a total institution in the city and call it community housing in violatin of the Olmstead Decision on community integration of people with disabilities in my opinion. Scattered site is completely different with a lot of support for each individual placed in an apartment and given all the furniture and help they need to make it in the community and become part of their community without prejudice and a stigmata on their home. These ARE supposed to be homes, an institution is not a home and VSH is proposing building an institution. If it was called a hospital with over 15 beds, Medicaid would not pay for any of the people who lived there, this is a very convenient way to get around that law which was made in the ’60’s to keep states and localities from transferring people from state hospitals to institituions by another name in cities and towns. I hope what disability community there is in this city stands up to object, of all disabilties to yet another institution. This is why we need the Community Choice Act, so funding will follow the person and care in a real home will be paid for by the feds. Yes, that was exactly her attitude when talking to Western State Hospital patients waiting for release–we know best, we don’t care what you want. What many wanted was a room mate as they feel lonely living alone and a few had girl friends or boy friends they wanted to live with. This will be a no overnight visitor facility. No love for people with disabilities? How far are we from the days of eugenics? Oh and she called someone’s idea crazy in front of WSH patients and didn’t see why that was inappropriate. Totally clueless and arrogant, but let’s just blow all this money on something the DOJ could come in and say is illegal eventually……

  • @Alison Hymes, I agree with your comments about the disabled, however, technically speaking, I don’t think this housing is for the disabled. As for sex partners being able to sleep-over in these $50/month studio apartments, I no. If they’re going to be living there, then their name should be on the lease, thus requiring them to pay for the privilege. Boy friends don’t deserve a free ride. Even local public housing requires moochers to be on the lease and their monthly income evaluated as household income.

  • VSH only does housing for people with psychiatric disabilities. They aren’t going to give people the option of putting a room mate or boy friend on the lease if they do pay for it. I agree they should pay and they would be willing but it won’t be allowed. They are also planning to tell all the neighbors that the residents are mentally ill.

  • Alison, it’s my understanding that VSH is going to build SROs for our homeless population, not specifically for the mentally disabled (doesn’t Region Ten cover that?). Granted, some of the homeless population may have either physical or mental disabilities, but the SROs will exist primarily to address the problem of homelessness in our area.

    I agree that several smaller structures scattered about the city would be preferable. I don’t much care for the idea of one large building. However, I believe that this is done in order to centralize special services to the residents.

  • Please check out VSH’s website, in particular. I clicked on the Cloverleaf and found out that VSH are building 60-unit buildings, but apparently they are allowing different localities to buy into the project. The building is then housing the homeless of several cities proportionate to that locality’s contribution. Thus the participating localities are really shifting some of their homeless around VA.
    This is the way they divided up the population at Cloverleaf’s 60 studios:
    “The localities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake provided funding and rental subsidies. Based on each locality’s contribution, forty-two units are reserved for homeless adults from Virginia Beach, twelve from Norfolk, four from Portsmouth and two from Chesapeake.”
    I don’t think it has been explained to our locals that we may not be providing housing for 60 of OUR homeless because they haven’t said how much it’s going to cost the City to use all of the 60 units. For that $125,000 the city plans to give to VSH to buy land and the $1.8M, at least, that VSH said would be required of the city to complete the initially estimated $6M project, we have no idea how many of our local homeless will be housed, if any. Now I have read that the project is estimated to be $8M. Does that mean other localities can come up with the additional $2M and get more rooms that Charlottesville, but we will have bear the ongoing costs? What, exactly, is our Mayor getting Charlottesville into?

  • Looking further at VSH’s site, it seems VSH provides studio apartments for single homeless people, group housing for semi-independent disabled people, and fully equiped homes for homeless families. I guess, since VHDA is providing considerable funding, unrelated people (boyfriend and girlfriend) are not allowed housing by state law.
    It appears the first housing was created in Richmond and the site did not mention that Richmond was sharing housing with other localities. It does say that Chesapeake, Portsmouth, NOrfolk, and Virginia Beach were sharing housing facilities. Perhaps Charlottesville will not have to allow housing for the homeless from other cities, then again maybe it will if the other cities come up with the additional $2M for the estimated $8M, the most expensive of VSH’s projects to date. Maybe, to just house Charlottesville’s homeless, the city would have to come up with $3.8M . I wonder how the candidates for City Council would vote on this project.

  • When presented to Northwest Peer Connect, this project was presented as for people with psychiatric disabilities but not for people who are in institutions currently, in fact why it was presented to people who need housing who would not be eligible for it is beyond me. In any case VSH dos have scattered site housing for psychiatrically disabled folks but this is not being proposed here, only folks who don’t need transition from Western State of which there are many and because of which this state like many is in violation of the Olmstead decision in my opinion, people who would otherwise be integrated into regular public housing or Region Ten housing depending on need will all be stuck in this institutional environment. If people from outside C’ville are going to be housed there then I see any less excuse for this out of date approach to housing homeless adults or underhoused adults with disabilities. If you look at the homes for people with other disabilties on the site, they are all much, much smaller and more homey than any 60 bed facility could be. I would like to see included in discussion people from Western on waiting lists for discharge from C’ville, people who use Region Ten services, people whose family members might need housing they can’t afford to pay for and generally the disability community and not just people speakingn for the folks who will live here. Why not go to On Our Own and VOCAL and Region Ten’s CAC and ask their opinion? Why not ask homeless folks what they want and need or is that too direct and too sensible and not enough about deciding what is best for others? The fireworks were wonderful, hope this isn’t really the last year in McIntire.

  • Alison, you’ve raised some good questions here, but I feel the need to correct the record a bit. First of all, while there may be some people with psychiatric disabilities housed at the Charlottesville SRO, it will not exlusively house people with psychiatric disabilities. It will be a mixed-income apartment building that will include 30-40 efficiency units for people who have been homeless and 20-30 efficiency units for people who may not be homeless or disabled but simply need an affordable place to rent close to downtown. Supportive housing is a proven and cost-effective solution to homelessness and Charlottesville is extremely fortunate that a very reputable group like Virginia Supportive Housing has agreed to build and manage an SRO here in our community. We are going to arrange a bus tour later this year for local residents who wish to visit VSH’s other SROs and I hope you will take the chance to participate on that tour and see for yourself how well their SROs are run. I’m not sure who it was that gave the presentation you attended but that does not sound like anyone I know at VSH. In particular, the claim that “neighbors will all be told ahead of time that ‘crazy’ people are moving in” sounds nothing like I’ve heard anyone at VSH ever say. I hope you will keep an open mind about this project because it’s the best chance that we’ve got to move dozens of our chronically homeless residents off the streets & out of shelters and allow them the dignity of living in safe, stable, affordable, accessible, well-run, permanent supportive housing.

  • p.s. In answer to your question, yes On Our Own, PACEM, Region Ten, local homeless service providers and potential SRO residents themselves have all been involved in the preliminary discussions about the Charlottesville SRO. It was our local coalition for the homeless (TJACH) that invited Virginia Supportive Housing to consider doing an SRO in Charlottesville and TJACH was extremely pleased when they agreed to do so.

  • Now, does anyone not believe that Dave Norris will do all that he can to see to it that his friends at VSH will be the local SRO provider? Procurements of this nature for city initiatives are supposed to go through an Request For Proposal process but this is a done deal. Does anyone believe that the Mayor is impartial and serving the residents of Charlottesville or is promoting VSH? Why is he promoting VSH? Are they the only people in the entire country that provide SROs with the help of the federal government? Something here stinks and I’m going to keep my nose open until I can figure out exactly what it is.
    “It will be a mixed-income apartment building that will include 30-40 efficiency units for people who have been homeless and 20-30 efficiency units for people who may not be homeless or disabled but simply need an affordable place to rent close to downtown.” Mixed income? VSH says on it’s own website that the tenants will pay 30% of their incomes or a minimum of $50/month and Section 8 will pay the rest.
    BTW, why is it so important to locate this housing downtown where the cost of living is the most expensive in town and the vast amount of the tenants will not be working? Do these poor people need to pay the expensive prices at CVS? Wouldn’t it make more sense to locate it near Wal-mart?
    Look out Woolen Mills, I think you’re about to get a high density apartment complex with Lord only knows who will be living it. Think about that in November when you vote.
    I wonder if this coalition for the homeless will be paying for the trip to VSH’s sites or the local tax payers.
    “Supportive housing is a proven and cost-effective solution to homelessness and Charlottesville is extremely fortunate that a very reputable group like Virginia Supportive Housing has agreed to build and manage an SRO here in our community.” Where is the evidence that anything about VSH has been proven? VSH isn’t doing anybody any favors; projects of this type is their business. This is how VSH makes it money. Stop the spin.

  • If the City went through an RFP process and VSH was made to apply as well as other vendors, then they would have to prove their abilities through the competitive process and not have to take Dave Norris’ word for it. That’s why localities, states and indeed the federal government employ the RFP process.

  • The term was “mentally ill” not “crazy” I will admit, but other than that, the tone was as I wrote and it was the director of VSH at a meeting of Northwest Peer Connect at the UU. My mind is not open to permanent “suppportive” housing. Permanent housing yes, permanent “supportive” housing no, as that means supervised and monitored housing which is not community integration. If this was meant as a stepping stone to community living in apartments that would be great and fine and Philadelphia for one has many good examples of that run by the Sisters of Mercy, where folks can live a very long time but only medically fragile such as those with AIDS or ESRD stay for the rest of their lives. Permanent living under supervision is not in the spirit of the Olmstead Decision and Region Ten represents providers and Region Ten’s interests, not the interests of those who wish to live free and integrated like their fellow citizens. Region Ten and the Homelesss Coalition are not known for encouraging a place at the decision making table for the very folks they say they represent. They represent patronage, just look at Region Ten’s website which calls their clients “OUR consumers” and their staff linke “for our staff”. Um, where have we heard that kind of ownership language before? Ask folks who suffer rather than submit themselves to Region Ten’s intrusion, and I could give you many names with permission, and see if you still think Region Ten serves anyone but Region Ten’s idea of “we know what is best for our clients”. Heck, just read their latest newsletter in which they attack the ARC of the USA for daring to say an awareness month may be stigmatizing for people with intellectual disabilities and use/exploit 4 of their own clients who do not say what the editor summarizes them as saying to refute one of the finest advocacy groups for people with intellectual disabilities in this country. And what was that about? I hear it was about who got a contract to provide services but that is just a rumour, check it out and find out if the rumour is correct. While you are at it, check out the huge offices for management staff out at Old Lynchburg Road and the lack of provision of counseling and therapy which they conveniently removed from their website when I pointed it out on my blog. Ask someone with the promise of anonymity and not in front of Region Ten staff how much recovery they have gained by going to the expensive warehouse called the Clubhouse. Ask Region Ten how many veterans with PTSD they are ready and prepared to serve on return to our community since they have no trauma services at all.

    Sorry but the endorsement of Region Ten means nothing to me and On Our Own has changed management.

  • @Cville Eye—-Our own Blue Moon Fund on Park Street run by Diane Miller has been involved in such programs in NYC, why not talk to them? They will know the names of other providers.

  • No, it was someone younger, this was in say February I think? I could check my records to be sure, maybe January. Maybe they are sending someone with more polish to present now? She was the Richmond director I think, maybe there is a state director also?

  • “Alice Tousignant is the Executive Director of Virginia Supportive Housing.”

  • So the person I heard is under her, the Richmond director. Makes sense. Couldn’t believe that folks were listening to her and liking what she had to say. She was so rude.

  • I’m pleased to note that not only has Virginia Supportive Housing competed in a thorough RFP process for City housing finds (and won), they also competed in a thorough review process for a major grant from the Community Foundation (and won), and last year their application for federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits was the highest-scored in the entire state. These people are tops in their field and they do excellent work and I am delighted that the City has agreed to partner with them on this project, Mr. Barry’s conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

  • Is it surprising since their most ardent fan is the Mayor? Of course, we have no idea who they were competing with for local funds, maybe QCC? As for the CACF, how many other agencies applied for a grant for SRO housing? How much did CACF award VSH? Did the City write a supporting letter for VSH to submit with its application or did it just allow VSH to indicate in its application that the City is a partner? Everyone knows that not all developers that have applied for federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits apply every year. So, scoring higher than say the ten that applied this year out of the 80 that have done so in the past, is not that impressive and proves absolutely nothing except maybe they have a good grant writer. I know how the processes work. If VSH had waited another year, it may not have received any tax credits. It all depends upon who’s applying for that particular year. That’s why it may take a group several years in order to secure the tax credits.

  • Cville Eye, I’m not sure why you’ve singled out the Woolen Mills in your comment above. I’ll speak for myself here- not officially for the neighborhood- when I say that I don’t think too many people in the Woolen Mills would have an issue with folks in need being provided much-needed housing here. We already have some subsidized housing, Region Ten group homes, and a multitude of income ranges in our neighborhood. I’ve never lived in a place with more open-minded and warm-hearted neighbors. But, in the interests of fairness, it would be nice if some of the “tonier” neighborhoods would absorb their fair share of Charlottesville’s needy population as well!

    The issue that would most likely pose a problem in many neighborhoods would be one of SRO density and the precedent that would set. Because of this, I think that the Planning Commission made sure that SROs would not be allowed in R-1 and R-2 residential neighborhoods. Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. I might have preferred playing around with the density level of the SRO model a bit so that it would allowable under residential zoning, yet not pose a threat from a zoning perspective. I worry about segregating those in need to far-flung areas, or overtaxing already stressed low-income neighborhoods.

    It’s true that we have some unbuffered industrial land in the WM, which is allowable zoning for SROs. Many people are aware of the serious problems this industrial zoning has caused us. Thus, we’re naturally wary that some might be looking at that land with an eye towards having it rezoned as high-density residential one day. We in the WM are very familiar with the unilateral decision-making that can go on during the planning process, and therefore will continue to keep a watchful eye on that particular front. But please don’t assume that the people of the Woolen Mills would consider SROs in and of themselves to be a bad thing. Quite the contrary, I’m sure.

  • @Victoria Dunham, what you have said starting in your second paragraph is exactly what I’m saying. I have never said that anybody in Woolen Mills is opposed to housing for the homeless. I was recognizing the fact that the people of WM have an issue with density – sixty dwelling units is three times the normal 21 DUA allowable by right in R-3. As you have said, once the precedent has been set…
    According to Norris, they are looking for a lot in the downtown area. Where can they find a lot downtown that they can afford? Water Street, Market Street? What neighborhood has the zoning for it? Ix and WM. Isn’t there about seven acres surrounding the Branham(?) House that’s appropriately zoned for this project? That’s why I say, keep a watch.
    I do not opposed housing for the homeless. I have financially supported the homeless shelter at the Salvation Army annually for probably the last forty years. I also supported Toscano’s point he made while on city council that the surrounding counties will have to provide housing for their poor rather than relying upon the city’s absorbing them. To date, there has been no formal discussion among the city and the surrounding counties of their providing any housing for their residents that have an income of less than 50% of the Area Median Income.
    And, most importantly, I am totally against the process this project has taken. The City has tantamount chosen its partner, brought to them by Norris after working behind the scenes to give VSH the advantage of funding that other potential providers do not have, then using that advantageous position to say that VSH is the best vendor of this service. On of the major deciding factors in being awarded federal grants for housing and receiving tax credits is demonstrating a strong and diverse financial support, preferrably commited to the project when the application is submitted.
    The true “downtown” is and will continue to be along 29N. This is where this housing should go. I’m sure, however, that the County would not welcome this project and probably wouldn’t lift a finger to have it located there. It also would not be willing to contribute local dollars to this project. Only in the city is money no object.

  • Cville Eye– I’ve heard independently that VSH is the best in the state at creating SRO housing, and that’s why they’ll be doing the project. Also, see Dave Norris’s post above on the RFP, etc. There’s no evidence of collusion or favoritism on anyone’s part, and to smear people in that way is completely unfair.

    Regarding the density issue, as you noted, I’ve been abundantly clear on the precedents set by that. But that’s because I lack faith in PC and NDS’s present or future ability to let a sleeping dog lie. It has nothing to do with VSH, the Mayor, or SROs. I dearly wish that the tools were in place to ensure that one, and only one, beneficial higher density or mixed use project could go in a spot, and not then lead to a snowball effect. But as anyone who’s attended or watched the meetings knows, inevitably you’ll hear someone utter the phrase: “Well, there’s already a blah-blah there, so let’s stick another one in.” Yep, and then another, and another. Or even worse, when some folks get the notion that your neighborhood would be better off becoming higher density or mixed use. Nobody objects to just one of something. The problem is that it never ends there. And so residents then have to be put in the position of being the bad guys and objecting to new projects to rezonings.

  • I’m glad to hear this is an integrated project but I still have concerns about how independent the living will be for those with disabilities and how much input people who will live there with disabilities will have in the rules and regulations for living there, especially around if they pay for it having a room mate for company or a wife and husband live with them since we don’t have other housing like this and some folks are married and there is no place for them to live together as wife and husband.

  • Don’t anybody look now, but as soon as they, city council and VSH discover the abandoned hotel project down town they will be all over it for their project. What better location than right in the heart of downtown? After all they feel that a central downtown location would best serve the needs of their clients. The possibilities for the building are limitless for the city and VSH.

  • “Background:

    Single Room Occupancy (SRO) housing provides an affordable housing option for very low income or
    formerly homeless persons. Providing a zoning classification for SRO facilities is a means by which the
    city can encourage and support the implementation of affordable housing goals and allow a new housing
    type for one of our underserved segments of the population.” This taken from the background material provided to Council from the staff.
    Dave Norris: “It will be a mixed-income apartment building…” ???

  • I think he meant mixed as to disabled or not, not mixed income Cville Eye. Just a typo, no need to perseverate over it. Now I do want to perseverate over the many possible uses of the abendoned hotel, how about the new administrative offices for Region Ten? :)

  • Dave Norris writes well and deliberately. If he did not mean “income” I guarantee you he would not have written it. “Income” is not a “typo” when trying to write “disabled and non-disabled.”

  • Region Ten needs to be dispersed and started over with a new vision and direction. It is way to big and doesn’t really serve the people it was intended to serve. Just another big administrative bureaucracy that reguires more and more money and space in order to survive.
    How does norris describe or define mixed income?

  • Agree absolutely on big changes needed to Region Ten, but as to your second question, I can’t speak for Mr. Norris, but if he didn’t mean mixed by ability and disability, there is still a big difference in income between someone on a Social Services cash grant in our region or on no grant and someone who has a large disability check or works part time who would have the most money of all the groups entitled to live there. Thus the sliding scale I think. Some of the folks with no homes have no incomes at all, some get checks of varying amounts every month, a veteran’s disability check is quite large compared to Social Security disability for instance.

  • “Cville Eye– I’ve heard independently that VSH is the best in the state at creating SRO housing, and that’s why they’ll be doing the project.” Hearing on the street that somebody’s the “best” (whatever that means) at something should not even be considered when government is awarding contracts. What does “best” mean? Best at completing the project? Best at coming in under budget? Best at quality of construction? Best at securing diversifies funding? Best at managing the facility to where it remains an asset for twenty years? Without a contract the city has already earmarked $125k for VSH and upon what basis? This is not the way of good governance.
    The RFP process? When was it let, and for how long and for what? Where was it advertised? What potential partners were notified? Was it limited to the handful of entities that produce SROs in VA, or was it regional or national? Exactly what is the nature of the competition field? RWSA has narrowed its competitors for the dredging study to a firm in Pennsylvania and another in Nebraska. If any of the applicants were from VA, it didn’t make the final cut, so, maybe there is better expertise out of state. The City has contracted with VSH to build a 60-unit apartment and it hasn’t hit the news?

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