Affordable Housing – The Status in Charlottesville & Albemarle

What are the roles of the City and County in the growth of affordable housing? Does location matter? “Rural vs. Urban” or “Rural plus Urban?” What can the agencies do to help. Stacy Pethia and Sunshine Mathon addressed this at our Wednesday February 13, 2019 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV board member Peppy Linden. Listen to this interesting podcast after downloading the view-graph presentation.

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In December Stacy Pethia became the principal planner for Housing for Albemarle County. Previously she coordinated Housing Programs in the City and managed Charlottesville’s Affordable Housing Fund. Stacy has a PhD in Urban Regeneration Policy from the University of Birmingham and a BA in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Mathon became executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance in 2017. The mission of Piedmont Housing Alliance is to create affordable housing opportunities and foster community through education, lending, and equitable development. Prior to that Sunshine served as the director of real estate development for Foundation Communities in Austin, Texas. Sunshine has a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Physics from Bates College.

 

 

Program Summary

Stacy Pethia and Sunshine Mahone discussed the current status of affordable housing in our area. Both speakers acknowledged that this is not just a local, but also a national problem affecting both urban and rural areas.

Stacy started her presentation by defining affordable housing — less than 30% of household income including rent, mortgage, utilities and taxes is spent on housing. She stated that greater than 30% of county residents are housing burdened, 50% of those pay more than 50% of household income for housing and of that group 25% are 55 years or older. Barriers to affordable housing are economic including not only income, but also cost of construction and decreased levels of funding. Regulatory barriers including zoning and land use policies prevent building affordable housing as well as social barriers such as discrimination and NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitudes.

Sunshine discussed the needs between urban and rural areas such as costs of transportation and staffing requirements. Tax credits are a large part of building affordable housing for developers. In order to receive these limited federal credits, localities have to have guaranteed local funding. It has been shown that individuals who have unaffordable or unstable housing have poorer health and sense of wellbeing. Regional Housing Partnership is a new group of Charlottesville, Albemarle and UVA members focused on resolving the housing crisis. Sunshine concluded with the statement that there is no perfect solution to this problem. He advised that there should be a decisive and proactive role by communities and smart spending of resources by all parties.

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