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Southwood affordable housing project approved

More than 100 new affordable housing units could be coming soon to Albemarle County, even though the addition would still leave a wide gap, a housing expert said.

The county’s Architectural Review Board voted 3-0 to approve a building permit request for Hickory Hope apartments as part of a redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Park southwest of Charlottesville.

Two board members, Frank Stoner and Taro Matsuno, were absent from the meeting.

Ground could be broken on Hickory Hope as early as this summer.

When construction is finished, there will be 121 more units of affordable housing in the county. That still leaves a shortfall, though. According to Stacy Pethia, the county’s housing policy manager, the county needs to add 439 units of affordable housing per year for 17 years to meet demand.

Affordable housing is generally considered to be housing that costs a family less than one-third of its gross household income. But stagnant wages and skyrocketing costs of living have made that math impossible to work out for a growing number of lower-income and some middle-income workers, including teachers, firefighters and other public servants.

Hickory Hope is a joint project by the Piedmont Housing Alliance and the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. The project had to undergo a separate review because it sits on the entrance corridor.

Hickory Hope will include a park and a community center for all Southwood residents.

“I think it’s a nice proposal,” Frank Hancock on the Architectural Review Board said.


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