Affordable Housing FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions, UVA Affordable Housing Initiative


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. We will rely on the selected developers to tell us what they are able to make work given the parameters we provide, e.g., development principles, land contribution, entitlement process, etc. We will encourage the developers to maximize the affordability of the housing units. 


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 in 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. The selected developer(s) will be tasked with ongoing community engagement to keep communication open. The developer(s) will need to bring deep experience in creative financing. 


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 gathering information about work throughout the City and the County to build a collection of resources to study. If there are other studies we should be aware of, please email [email protected]

Our project consultant, Gina Merritt, and UVA staff members continue to engage with stakeholders from local organizations, neighborhoods, and City and County officials to learn from them about existing work and identified gaps 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?

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 is UVA getting involved in Affordable Housing work?

Affordable Housing has been identified by the community as a priority and an area that UVA could work on with community partners.

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 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. The land will be subject to county and city entitlement, site plan, and building code processes.


Where will the units be built?

UVA announced that three properties in Charlottesville and Albemarle County owned by the University or the University of Virginia Foundation have been selected as the sites proposed for a new housing development initiative. The announcement follows careful analysis of land holdings and months of community engagement. The sites are:

  • At the current location of UVA's Piedmont Housing off Fontaine Avenue.
  • At the corner of Wertland and 10th streets.
  • Portions of North Fork, a UVA Discovery Park, on US 29 North.

Existing structures, other than a historic structure on the Piedmont site, would likely be replaced with new development. Leases for current tenants of Piedmont Housing and 1010 Wertland St. will be honored through their duration.



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 marginalized groups? 

The development principles are foundational to our work. The principles were co-created with the community and endorsed by the Advisory Group. The development principles will guide the selected developer(s), who will be expected to adhere to them during the planning, construction, and operation of new communities. The principles state that developers should offer creative solutions that consider opportunities for marginalized groups.


What will happen to current residents of Piedmont Housing and 1010 Wertland?

Leases for current tenants of Piedmont Housing and 1010 Wertland Street will be honored through their duration. 


How will development on these sites be funded? Is UVA paying for it?

The University has identified three sites owned by UVA or the UVA Foundation that it is making available for potential housing development. These sites include Piedmont Housing, North Fork, and Wertland & 10th Streets. UVA's contribution to help meet the need for more affordable housing in Charlottesville/Albemarle is this land, which will be made available to the developer(s) through long-term ground leases. The developer or developers will be selected by the University through an RFQ/RFP process and will be charged with designing, financing, constructing, and operating/maintaining the housing units, as well as community engagement. For more information about a typical development process and financing tools, please see the informational webinar series on the Resources page.


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 development principles that will be informed by 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. We know it will take a lot of creativity to make the financials on each project work and we will look to potential development partners to think outside the box along with us. UVA is committed to supporting the development of 1,000-1,500 affordable housing units. 


Are donor funds supporting UVA’s affordable housing work?

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