Yale University today announced changes to its patent royalty sharing practices to further encourage the…
Charlottesville faces a housing and rent crisis. Since 2012, costs have risen, while gentrification, financial stress and weak infrastructure have only exacerbated the problem. As one of the top-ranked cities for salary gapsinhabitants, especially black residents, are struggling to make ends meet when it comes to housing. To combat this problem, Charlottesville and the University must go further than they currently have control the rise in the cost of living in the City for the good of all residents and in the interests of fairness. I believe that the implementation of a plan faster than the 2030 The plan to create affordable housing on the land for students and the establishment of a rent control committee for the city are key to solving Charlottesville’s crisis.
The median income in the region in Charlottesville has also grown at an alarming rate in recent years, jumping 19% last year alone. This reflects a general trend among white residents moving to the city and black residents who have been to Charlottesville for more than 30 years being moved. The city has a long history of gentrification, racist zoning throughout the Jim Crow era, the razing of Vinegar Hill, and the preferential treatment given to white people when applying for affordable housing. Today, the effects of gentrification are felt everywhere, especially in the neighborhoods near the University. Lower-cost housing is often unavailable to Charlottesville residents, as it quickly becomes crowded with students. Without understanding the historical precedent on which this crisis is built, we will not be able to fight it properly. Acknowledging Charlottesville’s housing history is as much a necessity as affordable housing solutions.
As great strides are made in President Jim Ryan’s plan to have sophomores living on Grounds and expanding affordable housing options for students through university housing, more needs to be done now as the University $500 million in city real estate. The University has also increased wages to $15 an hour, but this increase is only just beginning to address the unaffordability of rent combined with the cost of living – The MIT Living Wage Calculator found a salary of $19 was required to do so in the city. As one of largest employers in Charlottesville, the University is intimately connected to the community – its actions must reflect this.
To play a more active role in solving the housing crisis in Charlottesville, I believe the University should put aside its status as a non-profit organization and find a way to contribute to the city’s affordable housing fund. by paying the income tax from which it is currently exempt. By not contributing to the City in property taxes, the University is avoiding a crucial means of supporting its employees. If the University were to pay the tax, the revenue would add an additional amount $15 million to the city’s budget each year. Additionally, if the University is concerned about losing its non-profit status, creating a fund to address the housing issue and working with the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund to match what it would pay in property taxes could be a solution that would allow the maintenance of the not-for-profit status while simultaneously creating a more mutually beneficial relationship with the City. Second, expedite the 2030 Plan process to increase field housing and it would be easy for the University to double the current number of affordable housing projects it is currently planning given its large investments in real estate. Doing so is the only rational choice in the face of this crisis, because without the work of the people of Charlottesville, the University would not function. It is the least the administration can do to provide for the needs of its employees.
As for local government, so far, Charlottesville Affordable Housing Plan is a big company and the expansion that was recently voted on is wonderful news. The plan currently allocates $10 million to solutions such as developing more housing and granting tax breaks. It will also adjust zoning policies to create more multi-family zoning as opposed to single-family zoning which has historically been used as a neighborhood segregation tool. That being said, more can be done when it comes to zoning and rent control. Especially, change zoning practices including overzoning in currently single-family areas and considering the formation of a rent control commission could provide relevant solutions. In the area of affordable housing, seeing an increase in the University’s property tax payment or addition to the fund would lead to a much greater ability to expand current projects. A rent control board would be able to stabilize rents by capping the amount a landlord can raise rent after a tenant moves out, as well as setting caps on rent increases based on what the market can support and in accordance with affordable housing projects. This council would be appointed by the City Council and would be comprised of tenants, landlords and landlords in a manner that accurately reflects the people of Charlottesville and centers equity of access to housing at the forefront.
While the crisis seems serious, there are real solutions that we must adopt to address it. Rent control scares some people, yet it is an injustice to let people go without housing because they face financial insecurity and discriminatory housing practices. To right the wrongs and ensure a sustainable future in Charlottesville, rent control is the best solution. It has proven effective in cities across the United States and can be done in a way that gives everyone a say in the process. Charlottesville must act now to save itself in the long term and protect tenants’ rights.
Ryan Lanford is opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. They can be contacted at [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the opinions of the authors only.