Zoning- Don’t Ignore Low-Income People!

The Charlottesville City Council will be issuing a “Request for Proposals (RFP)” to hire a firm to design new zoning rules for a piece of the Strategic Investment Area (SIA). Some in the City think that community input has already occurred and that all that is left to do is write the code. PHAR and concerned community members recognize the potential for low-income people and communities of color to be negatively affected by zoning changes and have sent a letter to City Council asking for more community input into the process and to make sure that the needs of the existing community are addressed.

December 28, 2016
Charlottesville City Councilors
City Hall
P.O. Box 911
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Dear Councilor,

We write to share input about the process of modifying Charlottesville’s zoning to include a Form Based Code. While we understand Form Based Code (FBC) has assisted some communities to expand, we are also aware of many problems FBC has created, most of which stand to disproportionately harm low-income residents and people of color in Charlottesville.

Although the Strategic Investment Area (SIA) planning began a few years ago, the current approach to Form Based Code changes is moving quickly. We request a process that is transparent, inclusive and understandable to community members. We hope you will not rush this process, but ensure we are making changes that will stand the test of time, preserve racial diversity in our community and increase the quality of life for our more vulnerable residents.

Our initial recommendations are as follows:

  1. Maximize community involvement, including low-wealth residents and people of color, at every step of the process of selecting a consultant, including:
    a. Drafting of the RFP,
    b. Reviewing applications, and
    c. Interviewing candidates.
  2. Include requirements in the RFP which
    a. Respond to the concerns of low-wealth residents and people of color who are involved in the process,
    b. Require applicants to demonstrate expertise in zoning work which positively impacts affordable housing, racial and economic diversity and stability for vulnerable residents,
    c. Require applicants to show compatibility with community-based values, such as those demonstrated in PHAR’s Positive Vision for Redevelopment (see below for more information), and
    d. Provide expectations for substantial involvement of neighborhood residents – including low-wealth residents and people of color – in the process of developing the code, and require a process that will be responsive to their concerns and ideas.
  3. Conduct rigorous outreach to help the people who are most at-risk of adverse impacts – lower-income residents and people of color – to understand the issues, choices, and potential impacts, and to listen and incorporate their input.

Charlottesville’s increasing gentrification has already displaced an alarming number of people and some of our neighborhoods have changed significantly. According to the city department of Neighborhood Development Services, the African-American population declined from 51.1% to 38.8% in the Strategic Investment Area as of 2012. This data needs to be updated, but we venture to say that the last few years of escalating upper income development have driven out even more African American residents. The proposed plan for Friendship Court will more than triple the numbers of residents, with the proposed new housing being overwhelmingly created for upper income residents. These issues underscore the need to involve people of color and low-wealth residents throughout the FBC process, starting with rigorous community education and information-gathering.

The community input process for the SIA plans should not be considered an adequate foundation for the process of adopting a Form Based Code or any other significant changes to Charlottesville’s zoning or neighborhood planning. Input from lower-income participants was largely ignored in the SIA plan. Many concerns were raised related to density, mixed income, neighborhood integrity and quality of life. Most of that feedback was not included in the final report, and is not reflected in the plan.

The tragic history of Vinegar Hill cannot and will not be repeated. We urge you to ensure residents’ voices are heard, and the code changes significantly improve the quality of life for lower-income people.

As you’re aware, the Public Housing Association of Residents conducted extensive outreach and community education to develop the Positive Vision for Redevelopment. Although the document focuses primarily on public housing redevelopment, it includes key principles which we hope will be incorporated into the FBC process, such as the following points:

  • Residents should be included in all decision making regarding redevelopment and should inform redevelopment planning.
  • Unused land can be used to provide more affordable housing for Charlottesville’s population and is the proper avenue for exploring increases in density and relocation plans.
  • Mixed-income communities can be built in ways that protect existing neighborhoods from increased gentrification and large increases in density.
  • Redevelopment offers historic opportunities to fundamentally repair low-income communities and make amends for the past.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to make Charlottesville a healthy and opportunity-rich home for all.


Pete Armetta
Brandon Collins
Emily Dreyfus
Frank Dukes
Holly Edwards, Former Vice Mayor
Jeffrey Fogel
Edith Good
William M. Harris, PHAR Advisory Council
Walt Heinecke
A’lelia Henry, Former member of the SIA Steering Committee
Joy Johnson
Peter Kleeman
Legal Aid Justice Center
Cynthia Neff
Todd Niemeier
Dave Norris, Former Mayor
Audrey Oliver
Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR)
Lena Seville
Dede Smith, Former Vice Mayor
Nikuyah Walker

cc: Missy Creasy
Brian Haluska
Alex Ikefuna

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Community Info Session September 7

community info flyer pic

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Drainage and Design at Westhaven

A new way of thinking about drainage and design at Westhaven?

Westhaven Drainage and Design Slides- Anna Cai Thesis

When Westhaven was built 50 years ago the whole area was “dug out” so that it wasn’t visible to or a part of West Main Street. This had led to 50 years of extreme water runoff from parking lots and roof tops on West Main down the back slope of Westhaven and towards homes. The moisture and run off has led to air quality problems, the sink hole, and deterioration of the back slope. Westhaven still remains isolated from the rest of Charlottesville.

UVA student Anna Cai prepared her thesis based on the idea that addressing the run-off and drainage problems can be done in a way that not only provides adequate drainage, but also provides a better quality of life through design and better connectivity to the rest of the world.

Check out her slide presentation given to the PHAR Board of Directors and see what you think!
Westhaven Drainage and Design Slides- Anna Cai Thesis

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Help PHAR as we head into an amazing year by running for election to our Board of Directors!
NOMINATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED_ make your nominations by July 12th 


The Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) will be holding elections for its Board of Directors this summer.  The Board is composed of 10 elected members and 5 appointed members. Board members attend PHAR Board meetings once a month, bring concerns from their sites, turn out other residents to meetings and actions, and share information with residents at their sites.  WE NEED YOUR HELP to Carry Out Our Very Important Work!

You can:
Nominate yourself
Nominate someone else

Who can run for a seat on the Board?
ALL RESIDENTS OF CHARLOTTESVILLE PUBLIC HOUSING ARE MEMBERS OF PHAR.  Any Resident of Public Housing (whose name appears on the lease and who is 16 years or older) may serve on our Board and be nominated for the Board, or nominate someone for the Board.

What positions on the PHAR Board are open?

Elected representation among public housing sites is distributed as follows:

  • 2 each from Crescent Hall, South First Street, Westhaven, and
  • 4 total from Madison Avenue, Michie Drive, Sixth Street, Riverside, and Single Family homes.


Nominate someone to run for the PHAR Board, or volunteer yourself:
Any Resident may nominate themselves and/or any other eligible Resident for a seat on the PHAR Board of Directors by sending the name(s) and contact information (address, telephone numbers) of nominee(s) to:

PHAR Elections
1000 Preston Ave., Suite C
Charlottesville, Va 22902


Email: kim@justice4all.org – fax (434)977-0558 –


call (434) 984-3255 (PHAR).

Nominations are due July 12th


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Party! Celebrate a New Beginning! June 16th

joy and grant“New Beginnings!” PARTY PARTY PARTY

Thursday June 16th at 5:00 pm at the Legal Aid Justice Center 1000 Preston Ave

Join PHAR and Friends as we welcome the new CRHA Executive Director Grant Duffield and Celebrate the release of PHAR’s “Positive Vision for Resident Directed Redevelopment”!

Food, fun, and lots of great folks! We are excited to begin a new chapter in Charlottesville’s public housing.

We really hope we’ll see you at this important and fun event! Please RSVP to Brandon at brandon@pharcville.org or call (434) 984-3255

The party will include a “pick-a-prize” auction, so prepare to have extra fun and hopefully leave with a gift certificate or other great item. Here’s how the pick-a-prize will work: when you arrive at the party, you will be able to purchase 12 auction tickets for $10, or $1 for 1 ticket (or 120 tickets for $100!). You’ll put your name on the back of the tickets, then you can place your tickets in the bowls sitting alongside any item you would like to “bid” on. The auction items will be on display in the library annex, the small conference room next to the LAJC library. The more tickets you place, the more you’re likely to win. We will draw the names of our lucky winners at the end of the celebration, and you don’t have to be present to win.

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“That World is Gone” Vinegar Hill Film- Watch Now!

“That World is Gone” a short film about Vinegar Hill and Urban Renewal in Charlottesville is now available on-line!
You can watch the film now HERE!

The film discusses what was lost, how it was lost, the impact on the community. PHAR really hopes you will watch and learn and spread the history around as we head into redevelopment of public housing and create a better future that makes amends for urban renewal at Vinegar Hill, Garret St. and Hartman’s Mill.

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Renter Rights Workshop May 25th

Tenants Rights Workshop Flyer

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Commence! The 2015-2016 PHAR Interns!

graduation 2016- grads with Bill and Catherine

The 2015-2016 PHAR Interns at Commencement with Guest Speaker William Harris, and HUD Field Office Director Catherine Lamberg

On April 13, 2016 PHAR was proud to celebrate the many accomplishments of LaQuandra, Travis, Richard, and Shanda during the course of the Internship Program. Their successes were many and the significantly improved the lives of hundreds of residents by advocating for and winning policy changes and fair treatment of residents. They participated fully in the hiring process for the new CRHA Executive Director and did a “damn fine job”!

Interns were instrumental in informing and spreading the love of PHAR’s Positive Vision for Resident Directed Redevelopment! The Positive Vision was made available to public the night of Intern Commencement as well! Have a look at the Vision here

and we got some positive attention from the media!
Daily Progress article on Intern Graduation

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Hire Your Own Landlord?

PHAR is excited to have residents included in the hiring process for a new Executive Director for CRHA!

This Wednesday, February 24 brings two applicants to town for an intensive selection process.

Residents should feel free to attend and participate in these two very important events on Wednesday!

Wednesday, Feb 24
10:30 am
Westhaven Community Center
Coffee and Donuts!
Join Residents and PHAR as we greet the first CRHA Executive Director applicant finalist and let them know a little about us! Share your experiences, what you know about Charlottesville, talk about the history as well as current events of public housing in Charlottesville, and have some coffee and donuts!
… stick around for

11:30 am
Westhaven Community Center

Join Residents and PHAR as we greet the second CRHA Executive Director applicant finalist and let them know a little about us! Share your experiences, what you know about Charlottesville, talk about the history as well as current events of public housing in Charlottesville, and have some lunch!

and then…

2:45 pm-5:30 pm
City Space (on the Downtown Mall)
Resident Interview Panel
Join Residents and Executive Director applicants for official resident focused interviewing. Residents are highly encouraged to attend and observe. We need you to hear what the applicants have to say, and we need your opinions when it comes time for selection!

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2015 Interns Graduate! CONGRATULATIONS!

PHAR is proud to celebrate the completion of our 2015 Internship Program by Dorothy Bartee, Cynthia Ivery, Michelle Jones, Carrie Smith, Kimberly Williams, and Victory Woodson. A ceremony was held on September 18th with guests Rick Turner, Mike Murphy, Julie Jones and Key Note Speaker Dave Norris.

Congratulations to all!graduation picture 2015

The PHAR Internship Program has successfully graduated 6 more interns in 2015!

The lives of approximately 2,000 public housing residents were improved because of the Interns’ community outreach and organizing projects.  As individuals, the 2015 interns have had amazing successes in working towards self-improvement, self-confidence, and self-sufficiency.

Personal Gains

  • 6 interns selected for the 2015 program graduated.
  • During the course of the program 2 interns obtained employment.
  • During the course of the program 2 other interns remained employed.
  • During the course of the program 1 Intern completed the GoDriver Program and is now employed by Charlottesville City Schools.
  • Another Intern is enrolled in the GOClean program.
  • During the course of the program 2 interns served on the PHAR Board of Directors
  • All interns have successfully resolved individual conflicts with CRHA and other agencies.

Program Curriculum

Interns methodically and intensively completed curriculum items related to: Conflict Resolution, Employment and Career Readiness, Leadership, Goals of PHAR and Legal Aid, Government and Housing Authorities, Policies and Procedures of HUD and CRHA, Section 8 program, Grievances, the Court System, Redevelopment, Strategic Planning, Community Organizing, Effective Surveying, and the History of Public Housing in Charlottesville.

Organizing and Advocacy
The 2015 PHAR interns were instrumental in mobilizing and advocating for:

  • Improved Safety in CRHA Neighborhoods by offering recommendations and mobilizing and advocating for implementation of the recommendations. 19 of 35 recommendations are being implemented or under serious discussion by CRHA or the City of Charlottesville! Interns continue to advocate for implementation of the remaining items.
  • PHAR’s Positive Vision for Resident Directed Redevelopment of Public Housing. Interns conducted 5 workshops to gain valued resident desires for positive outcomes of future redevelopment. Intern work on this project is invaluable to meeting PHAR’s strategic plan and ensuring much needed successful redevelopment of public housing in Charlottesville.
  • PHAR Interns conducted a survey of CRHA residents.
  • PHAR Interns were instrumental in confronting hard budget decisions faced by the CRHA and have advocated for greater City financial support of the CRHA.
  • PHAR Interns operated cooling centers during REAC inspections that required residents to remove air conditioners in 95 degree heat.




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