Charlottesville City Council Hears Suggestions on Public Housing

By: News Email
By: News Email

September 2, 2014

Charlottesville City Council heard possible ways to improve public housing Tuesday night.

City manager Maurice Jones updated council on the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Jones gave recommendations, including creating a two-year program to help residents become more self-sufficient. This program would cost $70-85,000 and would come out of the reserve fund in human services.

Jones also suggested creating two new positions: a maintenance supervisor who could coordinate repairs CRHA is responsible for, and a redevelopment director, who could think soley about upcoming renovations to housing. Jones said the CRHA capital fund could pay part of the cost of the maintenance supervisor position. The remaining $25,000 could be paid by the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. The cost of the redevelopment director position with salary and benefits would be $90,000, sourced from the affordable housing fund. He said city staff could also help.

Other changes he recommended included having the Downtown Jobs Center hold regular office hours to help public housing residents find jobs, having city staff assist the Housing Association in providing a HR department for them, and starting an orientation process to set and make sure the Housing Authority's vision and mission are being met.

Jones said these ideas could cost the city a total of between $200,000 and $215,000. He pointed out the cost would not be new or taken from the city's general fund, but would be sourced from housing funds or the reserve fund in human devices.

Emily Dreyfus, a Community organizer with the Legal Aid Justice Center and advisory council member with PHAR, or the Public Housing Association of Residents said Jones' report was a helpful first step for public housing residents.

"There's a great deal of need among public housing residents to have more accountability and improved services and we think this is a good step in the right direction but there is much more that needs to be done," said Dreyfus.

After Jones' presentation, Councilor Kathy Galvin said she wanted public housing to be a self-sustaining organization, so that the proposed costs would be paid for.

Kristen Szakos asked who the new workers would report to.

Council will next look at these ideas in a work session with the housing authority this fall.

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