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Planning district approves regional affordable housing plan

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has voted unanimously to approve a regional affordable housing plan.

The district’s member localities are the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties.

The plan is designed to address the local affordable housing crisis at a higher level than localities may be able to address on their own. The regional goals outlined in the plan center around three key tenets: policy, programming and capital.

“The purpose of why we’re thinking regionally … [is] that cross collaboration is really key in pooling resources and increasing access to improve communication to better address these affordable housing needs,” Nick Morrison, a senior regional planner with the planning district, said at Thursday’s TJPDC meeting. “And this regional approach reduces the need for one locality to shelter that burden.”

The plan aims to support a strategic approach to land use in providing affordable housing and to promote inclusive land use policies that foster equitable communities of opportunity.

The commission will promote and support the Regional Housing Partnership; identify metrics for tracking the implementation of affordable housing; continue to support the regional PorchLightVA affordable housing locator service; and provide opportunities for continued community outreach, education and engagement.

The plan will leverage existing financial resources to lower barriers to the creation of affordable housing and develop new funding mechanisms, such as a regional trust fund, to expand the capacity for creating and preserving affordable housing.

The commission decided to work toward creating an affordable housing plan starting in spring 2017, when it identified a lack of affordable housing as a key issue facing the region. Through information sessions and surveys, the planning district collected data from community members and stakeholders to inform its strategy to address the housing crisis.

According to Morrison, almost 11,000 of the region’s rental households are considered cost burdened, meaning 30% or more of their income goes toward rent. Almost 5,000 of the region’s rental households are considered severely cost burdened, meaning more than 50% of their income goes toward housing costs.

Morrison said 5,400 of the region’s homeowners are severely cost burdened, paying more than 50% of their income toward housing costs. In total, about 10,400 of the region’s households, both renters and homeowners, are considered severely cost burdened.

The plan contains specific data and recommendations catered to each municipality to address their unique affordable housing needs.

The planning district also received a $2 million grant from Virginia Housing to provide affordable housing in the region. The planning district will develop a program and is looking to partner with a local for-profit or nonprofit developer to create new affordable housing units.


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