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Ending Homelessness in Charlottesville

Charlottesville Community Foundation

A coalition of groups in Charlottesville will announce a bold new plan to end homelessness in that community Thursday.  They won a big grant to buy and rehab a hotel and to build new housing for as many as 140 people. 

The pandemic cost many people their jobs, and some also lost their homes.  They could be seen sleeping in doorways on Charlottesville’s downtown mall – unwilling or unable to stay in large shelters where the virus could spread. 

Eboni Bugg is director of programs for the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.  “This particular project really was instigated by the urgency of the global pandemic, recognizing that our current system of grouped shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness presented a public health risk even beyond the public health risks associated with homelessness itself.”

So the foundation offered the largest grant in its history -- $4.25 million – to the Piedmont Housing Alliance which bought an old Red Carpet Inn on the city’s busy Route 29 where Bugg says studio apartments will be offered.

“We anticipate anywhere from 75 to 100 rooms available depending on the conditions, so we currently have contractors out on the site evaluating and cleaning up those rooms so that we can get folks there as soon as possible.”

Then, with support from several non-profits, the alliance will begin replacing the old hotel rooms with new units for 140 people – about the number who are homeless in Charlottesville and surrounding counties on any given day.  The project was unveiled in a live webinar Thursday.

“We may have 150 unhoused people in our community, about 50 or so chronically homeless individuals in our community, and it’s also important to know that over 11,000 households in our regions are cost burdened, paying more than50% of their income towards housing costs.”  

So depending on how quickly the economy recovers from the pandemic, demand for emergency and supportive housing could grow in the weeks and months to come. 

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief