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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024

A little more than a decade ago, a state housing nonprofit built an apartment building near downtown Charlottesville specifically to house people experiencing chronic homelessness. It is called The Crossings at Fourth and Preston, and if you live in the city you've almost certainly seen it.

A man in a blue jacket and baseball cap sits on the edge of a brick planter in front of a building.
Leroy Barbour sits on the brick wall in front of his apartment building, The Crossings at Fourth and Preston, on Oct. 10, 2019. After The Crossings opened in March 2012, it cut the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness by half in just two years, Anthony Haro, former director of the Blue Ridge Area Coalition for the Homeless, said in a presentation to City Council in May 2022. Credit: Emily Hays/Collectbritain

The Crossings, built and managed by Virginia Supportive Housing, was the first of its kind in Charlottesville. It went a step beyond simply giving folks apartments. It staffed the facility with advocates to help residents keep their housing.

Within four years, the number of people counted as unhoused during the area's annual “point in time count” — a kind of census of people living in shelters or outside, taken on a single night — dropped by nearly one-third. Local homeless service organizations pointed to The Crossings as a big factor in that decline.

But it was temporary.

A screenshot shows a line graph in a u-shape.

By 2022, the number of unhoused people spiked to the highest recorded in more than a decade. So, Virginia Supportive Housing wants to build another Crossings. And they're close to accomplishing it.

The group has the space — the old Red Carpet Inn at Premier Circle — and the financing. Well, mostly. The project keeps getting delayed because the construction costs are rising faster than Virginia Supportive Housing can raise the money.

Woman standing at chain link fence, putting lock on. A one-story motel is behind the fence, empty.
Credit: Kori Price/Collectbritain

As chronic homelessness rises in the Charlottesville area, one type of housing that can help has been delayed because of rising construction costs

Most of the funding for this $24 million project is from taxpayers, in some form or another. The lion's share came in the form of federal tax credits. The government gives those to organizations, which then turn around and sell them to investors. The investors end up paying less in taxes, and the organization gets cash for its project.

But, our local governments have also chipped in. Charlottesville City Council and Albemarle County's Board of Supervisors gave $750,000 and $700,000, respectively — that's $1.5 million total.

Local leaders say it's a worthwhile use of public funds, and it is just one of several things they plan to do to help reduce the number of unhoused folks in the city. Another might be to build a similar project at a property the city is poised to purchase in the Belmont neighborhood. Council votes on that issue tonight.

A brick building with a mostly empty parking lot covered in snow.
Credit: Erin O'Hare/Collectbritain

City manager will ask Council to buy a $4 million Belmont property for potential shelter and housing

You might remember this bit of news. Last month, City Manager Sam Sanders spoke with neighborhoods reporter Erin O'Hare about his hopes for the property. The city has no firm plan yet, but Sanders said officials have several loose goals. They will look into building an overnight shelter for unhoused people at the property, a permanent supportive housing complex, or perhaps a mixture of both.

We'll continue to follow the actions our local government and nonprofit organizations take to help reduce the number of unhoused folks in this area.

Have a great week, everyone,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Collectbritain's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at [email protected]! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a [email protected].