Selling Affordable Housing

By: Elizabeth Donatelli Email
By: Elizabeth Donatelli Email

March 27, 2007

A local company has provided housing for low-income residents for 25 years, but now the properties are going up for sale and the fate of the tenants is uncertain.

Dogwood Housing Limited Partnership is selling all of their 21 buildings in the inner-city of Charlottesville, many of which are historic properties, with hopes of selling to a group, who will continue to provide affordable housing.

Dogwood Housing had a goal when it was first formed: to restore properties and rebuild neighborhoods like this one here, while providing quality housing for those less fortunate

Eugene Williams is an entrepreneur. He bought his first property with his brother in 1960 for $22,000. It's now selling for over $240,000.

"Growing up, one of the games I just loved and loved to play was monopoly," said Eugene Williams, founder of Dogwood Housing.

Williams founded Dogwood Housing, which owned 79 units by 1980, but the goal wasn't just to make money.

"There is a commitment that you want to do something for people's lives more than you just want to collect rent," said Williams.

The group restored houses and rented to people on fixed incomes. It gives people in subsidized housing an alternative from traditional public housing. Instead of being clumped with other Section 8 housing, it's scattered throughout the city.

"Today I live to see that public housing from that early principal has been a damnation to the country and to prove the point as you know now, the government is tearing down all those clustered public houses," said Williams.

Maurice Walker grew-up in Dogwood Housing. He graduated and now works at the University of Virginia and attributes some of his success to the place he grew-up.

"When they came home at night, kids would have a place where they could come and study without fear of an illegal drug deal going on, violence, that type of thing," said Walker.

In fact the properties have helped improve some neighborhoods.

"In many ways we revitalized neighborhoods, that potentially could have been destroyed had we not come in and salvaged a few properties selectively in those neighborhoods," said Scheryl Glanton of Dogwood Housing and also Williams' daughter.

Those are neighborhoods like 10th and Page, which just won the neighborhood of the year award last year. Dogwood Housing is selling their properties hopefully as a package deal, but as for if they'll remain subsidized housing Dogwood Housing says they hope so, but that will depend on the new owner.

Summit Realty is selling the property and a spokesperson says they will sell the units in groups if they can't sell them all at once.

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