The University of Virginia launched a program designed to produce one thousand to 15-hundred affordable housing units over the next decade in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
UVA President Jim Ryan met with community residents online, explaining the program that could ease a local shortage of affordable homes. He did not supply many details, explaining that the university wants to hear from its neighbors before deciding when and where to start, who might be eligible for the new units and what they would cost. Then, he seemed to acknowledge the school’s role in destruction of a once thriving Black neighborhood that is now filled with high-end student housing, shops, restaurants and bars.
“There is a complicated and not entirely happy history of development in Charlottesville including UVA’s role in it, and we’re mindful of this as we begin our work,” Ryan said.
UVA does not plan to contribute money but will lend expertise and donate land the school’s chief operating officer described as excess, surplus property.
Ryan also raised the possibility that UVA could push housing prices down by requiring sophomores to live on campus – a rule that currently extends only to freshmen.
“We have some upper class housing, but we do not require second years," he explained. " My hope is that we will get to a point where we will require first and second years to live on grounds, which I think would be good for them but I also think it would alleviate some pressure on the local housing market.”
UVA promised to collaborate with the community – to ask locals about their needs and wishes before proceeding and said a consultant would be hosting a number of listening sessions.