Frequently Asked Questions, UVA Affordable Housing Initiative

WHAT?

What is UVA trying to do?

UVA has established a goal to develop 1,000 to 1,500 affordable housing units over a decade on land in Charlottesville and/or Albemarle County that is owned by UVA or the UVA Foundation.

 

How does this project define affordable?

We’re just getting started and haven't defined affordable yet. A large part of our early work is doing research, along with a lot of listening, to figure out how UVA can contribute without duplicating the work of others.

 

A lot of organizations are already doing affordable housing work in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Where will UVA fit in so that they are not competing for funding or duplicating efforts?

We want to understand the community's perspective on how we can participate the overall affordable housing solution. It’s a big challenge that will require all of us to contribute where we can. Community members are helping us figure out our role and providing valuable input to our project consultant.

 

Are you aware of the many studies and resources that already have been developed by others? How are your coordinating with the City and County?  

We understand that there have been quite a few community engagement initiatives by various groups in recent years, and we want to learn from the existing work and gain additional insight without duplicating prior efforts. We have been collecting information about work throughout the City and the County to build a collection of resources to study.

Our project consultant, Gina Merritt, has been meeting with stakeholders from local organizations, neighborhoods, and City and County officials for several months to learn from them about existing work so that we can determine the most effective way for UVA to help address needs. Both the City and County are represented on the Advisory Group for the project, along with local organizations involved in this work.

 

Are you looking for opportunities to do mixed use, mixed income housing? Low-income housing?  What about home ownership?

All options are on the table at this point. We don’t have any preconceived notions about the final design. What we are learning from listening to stakeholders and reviewing market research will help us determine housing types, income levels, and other components.

WHY?

Why is UVA getting involved in Affordable Housing work?

Among the key initiatives in the University’s strategic plan is the Good Neighbor Program that calls for the University to work collaboratively with our community partners to address challenges that include housing. Affordable Housing is one of five working groups working under the auspices of the President’s Council on UVA-Community Partnerships.

 

Is UVA trying to make a profit?

No, financial profit is not a driver. The developer will need to identify potential resources and create a viable financial model for the construction of the affordable housing units.

WHEN?

When will the units be built? 

The goal is to support the development of 1,000 to 1,500 units over 10 years. We will learn a lot with the first project and will want to incorporate those lessons going forward. The timing will depend on several factors, but first we need to have a solid understanding of UVA’s role in the overall affordable housing solution. We don’t want to move forward until we have engaged our community partners.

WHERE?

Where will the units be built?

Site selections have not yet been finalized, and we anticipate announcing sites this fall. Our early work involves determining how UVA can contribute to an affordable housing solution in Charlottesville/ Albemarle and collecting input that will help shape design principles. We’re committed to engaging the community throughout this project, including engagement after a site -- or more than one site -- has been determined.

 

Is North Fork going to be one of the sites?

Site selections have not yet been finalized. The UVA Foundation (UVAF) started discussing a residential component for North Fork in 2016-17 as part of an update of its master plan, recognizing that housing was essential to create a vibrant place that is attractive to companies and their employees who desire a mixed use live/work/play community. This was four years before UVA’s affordable housing commitment was made in 2020. UVAF embarked on a rezoning effort beginning in 2020 to allow housing at North Fork, and that work continues. A formal application has not been submitted to Albemarle County for consideration. The County is considering requiring new housing developments to includes 20% affordable housing units. If this becomes a requirement and if UVAF ever builds housing at North Fork, they anticipate that some percentage of the units would be affordable per this new requirement.

 

How will the University consider factors like jobs, transportation, education, and childcare when determining sites?

All these factors will be considered as we build a development framework and establish design principles based on our research of the area and input from the community.

 

WHO?

Are these units to be occupied by community members not associated with UVA? Student pressures cause high rents throughout city. 

Our intention is to serve the community broadly, not to limit this to the University community. We are also studying the possibility of housing all second-year students on Grounds, which we hope would alleviate pressure on the rental market in Charlottesville. It will take a multi-pronged approach. We hope to contribute by providing both more housing on Grounds for students and by supporting the development of affordable housing units for community members.

 

How will this project help the elderly, those experiencing homelessness, developmentally-disabled individuals, and others who have housing barriers: credit, criminal, rental history, and income? 

We understand that people who need affordable housing are not all the same, and they face unique challenges based on their individual circumstances. Through listening sessions with community stakeholders, we will learn more about how this initiative might help to address needs among community members that are not currently being met. We want to be good partners and join in where we can help make a difference.

HOW?

Will UVA build the units itself?

The University plans to work with a third-party developer - or developers - that we will select based on a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP will include design principles that will be determined through our community engagement work. This will help ensure that we maintain that connection between community input and final design.

 

Will UVA offer capital in addition to land?

At this time, we are offering land with the idea that will it enable affordable housing to be built in areas that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive because of the cost of land in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. UVA is also adding human capital -- significant investments of personnel time -- in addition to the land. We know it will take a lot of creativity to make the financials on each project work. Financial profit is not a driver.

 

Are donor funds supporting UVA’s affordable housing work?

No, donor contributions to UVA are not being used for this initiative.