February 18, 2019

Preparing a Plan for the Piedmont

With its rolling hills, quaint downtown shops, wineries and bed and breakfasts, attractions of cultural and historic significance, a world-class university and other exemplary features, Virginia’s Piedmont Region is a desirable – if not coveted – place to live.

The region (which includes the city of Charlottesville plus Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties) clearly enjoys many advantages, but it also has a challenge: more affordable housing is needed. That’s why the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has launched a study that will lay the groundwork for addressing the area’s housing needs.
 
A $100,000 VHDA Community Impact Grant is the primary funding source for this study, with another $50,000 coming from Albemarle County and planning district commission funds. Community Impact Grants are awarded by VHDA as a resource for local governments that are pursuing qualified housing planning and community revitalization efforts.

Some of the district’s housing shortcomings are already well documented. Affordable housing is in short supply. In some areas, the waiting lists for public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers – which serve as rent subsidies – have been closed for years. More than one in five households is cost-burdened, meaning they must spend an unduly high proportion of their income on rent, leaving them vulnerable to financial hardship.

The study will delve into these issues and others and try to identify solutions. It will explore the quantity and type of affordable dwellings needed to meet current and future needs, the forces affecting their supply and the degree to which the private market is meeting the region’s challenges. This information, along with related data, will provide a foundation for the region’s leaders to draft housing policies and allocate funds.

The study is also expected to build momentum for the district’s individual jurisdictions to tackle their housing challenges on a regional basis. In addition, the process will produce a template that can be used by localities across the commonwealth to complete the housing analysis required as part of the comprehensive planning process. 

The study’s findings and recommendations are slated to be presented in February 2019. It’s an important first step in making it more affordable for Virginians to live in, and enjoy, this remarkable region of our state.

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