Not sure how I missed this story at Charlottesville Tomorrow discussing “affordable” housing in Charlottesville and Albemarle.
Two initial thoughts –
1 – We need accurate data on commuting patterns into and out of Charlottesville and Albemarle. Using data from 2000 is not helpful, and likely deceptive (and I don’t mean “deceptive” in a negative or malicious connotation). I’d wager that since 2000, the number of people commuting into Charlottesville/Albemarle has doubled.
2 – Proffering affordable units doesn’t seem to be helping – (bolding mine).
Since the Affordable Housing Policy was adopted in 2004, 1,622 affordable units have been proffered. While nine proffered units have been completed, seven are under construction and twenty-five are in the final site plan review stage. When these proffered units are completed, the housing stock in the County that is affordable to families making 80% of the AMI will be dramatically increased.
Since 2004, more than $1.5 Million in cash proffers for affordable housing have been offered to the County and of that about $400,000 has been collected. Presently, several major residential and mixed-use developments include affordable housing proffers in the County:
* Belvedere – 103 units & $500,000
* Biscuit Run – 455 units
* Cascadia – 50 units
* Hollymead Town Center – 245 units
* North Pointe – 110 units and $300,000
* Old Trail Village – 330 units
* Rivanna Village – 78 units
* Wickham Pond – 16 units
These proffered units are required to be affordable to residents earning 80% of the AMI and are generally intended for purchase whereas public housing is generally directed at families earning incomes at or below 30% of the AMI.
Promising affordable housing is one thing. Actually building it is an entirely different matter.
“Subsidized housing” is the topic of this post; “affordable housing” is the PC euphemism that’s come into use across the US. You recognize this when you put “affordable” in quotes in the body of the post.
Folks who are interested in buying want to know the answer to the question “Where is affordable housing in Charlottesville?” too.
The median prices in this area exceed those in major metropolitan areas. It’s no wonder that so many of the proposed new developments are stalled or have faced mass foreclosures, since the properties were too pricey for “average buyers.” And this has led to only 9 new units of subsidized housing.
23% of the City’s population lives in poverty. The Obama stimulus plan will give Cville about $750K to “fix up” existing subsidized housing, but not to build any more.
It’s a sad comment when the money life of a community has gotten so out of whack that we have a money fight over the “luxury” Landmark Hotel, an alleged Ponzi scheme, several years worth of overpriced RE and many hardworking folks priced out of the market, lots of farmettes and estates for sale but not moving, and subsidized housing that often looks worse than that in pre-Katrina NO.
Outsiders must think WTH is going on over there?
Clearly the burden is now on developers, given the thousands of housing units that have been approved. I’ve heard that over 10,000 to 15,000 new units have been approved in the past ten years.
Unfortunately, I can hear developers saying “…the market just isn’t there for smaller units.”
If there ever were a time for smaller affordable houses, it is now. The approvals are in place (North Pointe, Biscuit, and on and on…). I hope we see these new units soon. The time has come for a little less profit for developers, and a little more value for homeowners.
I would support current homeowner subsidies if I were at all convinced that they actually lead to more affordable housing, but I’m not there yet. Without deed-restrictions, they end up being a one-time transfer of wealth from government (or, in the case of proffers, from the developer and other homebuyers) to a particular 80% AMI household with no long-term results to show for the money. What’s the point in that? If there is some sort of deed-restriction, this rule would undermine the homeowner’s ability to build equity, which is one of the fundamental benefits of ownership.
IMO, the one way out of this is build more, build smaller, build closer together. How can this be incentivized? Well, a good place to start would be to roll back many of the disincentives and outright barriers currently built into zoning ordinances (particularly in the city). I don’t know if the political will is there for this yet, but if more people made the real connection between AH and exclusionary zoning it could potentially be generated.