Habitat Announces New Housing Deals

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

July 11, 2005

Housing prices have sky rocketed in Charlottesville over the last few years, but there is good news for home-buyers and renters.

"I live in a great house, I live with the people I want to live with, but you've got to pay out the wazoo to live with who you want to live with, where you want to live, with the right number of people in the right location," said renter Chris Jamison.

But things may be changing. Habitat for Humanity and the Charlottesville Community Design Center announced a final plan to completely transform Sunrise Trailer Court into affordable housing.

"Most of it is multi-family housing, all with attention paid to public and private space, balcony spaces, private areas within a larger development," said Katie Swenson of the Charlottesville Community Design Center.

Over 400 people submitted designs, and 40 overseas, but one stood above the rest.

"When Marian Dudley, resident of Sunrise Trailer Court who served on the jury said, 'this one feels like home. This is the place that I want to live,' We knew we had our winner," said Swenson.

"The way to stay in business and continue to build affordable housing was to mix it with market price housing [in town]," said Lynn Conboy of Habitat For Humanity.

None of the 17 families will be permanently displaced. Instead, all will be invited to live in the new affordable housing. However, they may choose to live elsewhere.

Half of the 2.3 acre trailer park will be affordable housing and the other 35ish units will sell at market value.

"Low income people spend on average, 40% of their incomes on transportation," Swenson said. "We need to be very careful about where we choose to develop, that we take advantage of existing infrastructure, connection to mass transportation."

Residents say some moved after the trailer park went on sale, but most that stuck around are excited.

"I think the way they talk and what they say they're going to do, I think it will be wonderful, I think it will be very wonderful," said Ernest Conly, another Sunrise Trailer Court Resident.

Plans include space for singles, and multi-bedroom units for families.

The program, called "Urban Habitats," could serve as a model all around the country.

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