Redevelopment plans for Friendship Court will be designed to address the housing needs of local families. Our design team examined how Friendship Court relates to local demographics and the overall housing market in Charlottesville. Here’s what they found.
City of Charlottesville
The City of Charlottesville, centrally located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has a population of just over 48,000. Home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and major medical centers, Charlottesville is a thriving city with a vibrant downtown anchored by the downtown mall.
The 11.75-acre Friendship Court site—bounded by Garrett Street on the north, 2nd Street on the west, Monticello Avenue on the south, and 6th Street on the east—sits just a block and a half from the core of downtown.
The Charlottesville metropolitan statistical area (MSA) includes the city and five surrounding counties, with a total a population of approximately 219,000. The majority of those residents live in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Median household income in the MSA is $84,100. The median resident age is just over 34 years.
Friendship Court in the Charlottesville Context
Over the past 10 years, the level of development around Friendship Court has increased dramatically. Charlottesville is experiencing rising rents and adding housing, new businesses and stores. Friendship Court residents can see the pace of change, yet they haven’t benefited from this development.
Some 500 people live in 150 apartments at Friendship Court today. More than half (58%) of residents are under 18. 93% of units at Friendship Court have a female head of household. 88% of residents are African American, and 12% are white.
The average annual household income at Friendship Court is approximately $11,000. Many residents hold down more than one job, yet the average wages for those families is just $16,200. By the federal definition, the majority of Friendship Court residents live at or below the poverty level.
Among adult heads of households, more than 50% are employed, with the remainder receiving Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF), child-support payments, or some combination of these. About 20% of the working adults earn more than $20,000.
Most working adults in Friendship Court work in Charlottesville or nearby Albemarle County. The largest clusters of workers are employed by the University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville City Schools, Albemarle County Schools and small businesses. The residents at Friendship Court are representative of other Charlottesville residents with limited housing options, given current rents in the market.
Just over 27% of all Charlottesville households live in poverty. Many of these households are employed but have limited housing options. A large percentage of them work in industries crucial to a functioning economy: food service, healthcare, retail and administration.
Units now coming to market in Charlottesville skew to middle- and upper-income levels and rents, with a significant percentage targeted to empty nesters and students, according to Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Policy Recommendations: Affordable and Workforce Housing (a report prepared by the RCLCO consulting firm for the City of Charlottesville and released in 2016). More affordable options can be found in the surrounding counties, but the greatest job opportunities and highest wages are found within the Charlottesville city limits.
Increases in income for Friendship Court residents lead to an increase in their rent, adding another financial burden. If residents start to earn more than allowed under Section 8, they must leave and often have to move outside the city limits to find housing they can afford. This condition has informed the plan for the redevelopment of Friendship Court by maintaining all 150 deeply affordable Section 8 units while also introducing higher-income units.
Filling this missing middle tier of housing between affordable and market-rate will allow families to remain on site and in the city as their incomes rise. This directly addresses the recommendations of the SIA report and the housing study prepared by RCLCO, which calls for middle-income housing within walking distance of jobs and educational and cultural opportunities.
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In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll look at Charlottesville’s affordable housing gap.
Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Local Context (Charlottesville Context)