May 3 • 19M

May 3, 2022: Supervisor Price to run for House of Delegates; City Council briefed on increase in homeless individuals and possible solutions

Plus: Several tourism destinations receive funding from the Virginia Tourism Corporation to attract new visitors

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Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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Today’s visit to the National Day Calendar reveals what many would regard as plain old silliness. Apparently it is National Chocolate Custard Day, National Garden Meditation Day, National Two Different Colored Shoes Day and National Lumpy Rug Day. If Charlottesville Community Engagement had a budget for promotional prizes, one would go for a winning photograph in a contest to capture the essence of all four of these fantastical days. In all seriousness, May 3 is also World Press Freedom Day and I’m honored to be able to bring your this information on as many days as possible.

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On today’s program:

  • The chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will run for the Virginia House of Delegates 

  • Several tourist destinations across the region receive matching funds from the Virginia Tourism Corporation

  • The head of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless briefs Council on progress towards getting everybody housed

  • And the Albemarle Architectural Review Board takes a first look at a project to build 81 units of permanent supportive housing 


Today’s first shout-out goes to LEAP

We’re now well into spring, and many of us may have already turned on our air conditioning units for the first in months. To see what you can do to get the most out of your home, contact LEAP, your local energy nonprofit, to schedule a home energy assessment this month - just $45 for City and County residents. 

LEAP also offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents. If someone in your household is age 60 or older, or you have an annual household income of less than $74,950, you may qualify for a free energy assessment and home energy improvements such as insulation and air sealing. Sign up today to lower your energy bills, increase comfort, and reduce energy waste at home!

Supervisor Price running for 55th House of Delegates 

The chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors has announced she will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the new 55th District for the Virginia House of Delegates, whether the next election is held this year or next. 

Scottsville Supervisor Donna Price announced this morning on Facebook that yesterday’s leak of a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade prompted her to file for her candidacy. 

“I yesterday morning filed my campaign committee paperwork to be a candidate - whether it be this year as a result of the Federal District Court case of Goldman v. Brink; or, next year as regularly scheduled,” Price wrote.

Donna_2022
Supervisor Donna Price (Credit: Albemarle County)

Federal Judge David Novak is currently deliberating on whether Richmond Attorney Paul Goldman has the legal standing to have filed a suit claiming Virginia’s current legislative districts are unconstitutional because they are still based on the 2010 Census. The Virginia Supreme Court adopted new districts drawn by Special Masters in late December 2021 after a redistricting commission failed to reach consensus. 

The incumbent in the 55th District is Republican Rob Bell, who currently sits in the 58th District. The new 55th District covers most of Albemarle County, western Louisa County, and northeastern Nelson County.

Price joins Kellen Squire as declared Democratic candidates in the 55th District. Squire ran against Bell in 2017 for the 58th District and was defeated 61.2 percent to 38.71 percent. Bell outraised Squire $471,519 to $115,210 that year. Squire was briefly a candidate in the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s race. 

The first campaign finance report for the next House of Delegates race is not due until July 2022. 

In her announcement on Facebook, Price said she was running now to protect reproductive rights, which she said are one vote away from being overturned in Virginia. 

“While I support the legal basis of the Goldman v. Brink plaintiff, I have been holding personal concerns about elections in 2022 given the mood of the country,” Price wrote. “Those concerns no longer exist.  We are in a legally existential battle for the rights of Americans.”

Price was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2019 by beating Republican Michael Hallahan on a 55.21 percent to 44.44 percent margin. Hallahan raised $92,256 to Price’s $38,234. 

Squire, an emergency room nurse,  said he will be making a formal announcement on Friday but responded to a question this morning.

“I filed the first week of March, but have spent the last two months building the local, regional, and statewide support that will be necessary to win this race,” Squire wrote. “I've been told by both current and former local, regional, and statewide elected officials of both parties that the Virginia GOP intends to dump whatever resources are necessary to keep this seat in their column.” 

Squire credited his 2017 race with laying the groundwork for the eventual Democratic takeover of the House of Delegates and the Senate in 2019. 


Youngkin decries leak

As for that leak, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has confirmed the publication of a draft opinion.

“Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case,” reads a press release from the Court.

Roberts has directed the Marshall of the Court to investigate the source of the leak.  

In a statement, Governor Glenn Youngkin decried the leak and said it was premature to speculate on what the actual ruling will be. 

“We learned from listening to Virginians over the last year that we have much common ground on this issue. I am pro-life, and I have been very clear about that since the day I launched my campaign,” Youngkin said. 

As of today, there’s no ruling from Judge David Novak on the Goldman v. Brink case. 

Area tourism efforts receive funding from the Virginia Tourism Corporation

Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced the award of 259 grants to entities across the Commonwealth to mark National Travel and Tourism Week. The funding comes from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Marketing Leverage Program & Regional Marketing Program Grants

“This funding cycle, local partners will commit more than $12.4 million to match the VTC funding, providing more than $15 million in new marketing activity,” reads a press release sent out on Monday.  

The recipients are:

  • Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery in Afton for their Road Trip to Nelson 29 promotion ($5,000)

  • Boars Head Resort for their Winter Wander promotion ($5,000)

  • Center for Independent Documentary Inc in Charlottesville for the La Loba Festival ($5,000)

  • Charlottesville and Albemarle County for the Historic Vines, New Roots promotion ($20,000)

  • Crozet Park for the Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival ($10,000)

  • Ix Art Park Foundation for the Cville Arts Winter Weekends / Charlottesville Arts Festival ($10,000)

  • Louisa Chamber of Commerce for Unplug & Play 2.0 ($5,000)

  • Louisa County Parks, Recreation and Tourism for the Happening Around Corner: Louisa County Events / Visit Louisa Mobile App ($24,936)

  • Love Ridge Mountain Lodging of Charlottesville for the launch of the program ($10,000)

  • Nelson County for the Nelson County Dark Skies Trail and the Nelson Winter Market ($20,000)

  • Orange County for the Orange Uncovered promotion ($20,000)

  • Queen City Mischief & Magic in Staunton for the Queen City Mischief & Magic Festival ($16,616)

  • Quirk Charlottesville for their program History, Hiking, and Heritage: A Trip to Charlottesville ($10,000)

  • Southern Revere Cellars LLC for the Land Made promotion ($10,000) 

  • Staunton Augusta Art Center for the Art in the Park promotion ($3,000)

  • Staunton Music Festival for the Staunton Music Festival / BaroqueFest 2022 program ($13,750)

  • Summer Stage LLC for the Summer Stage @ the Blackburn program ($10,000)

  • The Front Porch of Charlottesville for the Boots and Bling Fall Gala ($4,350)

  • Tom Tom Foundation of Charlottesville for the Tom Tom Festival ($10,000)

  • Virginia Festival of the Wheel in Charlottesville ($10,000)

  • Wayne Theatre Alliance in Waynesboro for an Outdoor Production ($10,000)

  • Waynesboro for the Family Friendly Waynesboro program ($20,000)

Shout-out to Camp Albemarle

Today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”

Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting campalbemarleva.org/donate

Council briefed on increase in homelessness in Charlottesville area

The Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) is the lead agency in this region for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development’s Continuum of Care program. They cover an area including Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the other localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. 

“We believe that everyone deserves a safe place to call home and we believe that is a human right,” said Anthony Haro, TJACH’s executive director. (download Haro’s presentation)

Haro said the goal of TJACH is to make homelessness as rare, brief, and nonrecurring as possible. He said homelessess is a symptom of a system that lacks enough resources and coordination. 

Every year, TJACH participates in the Point in Time survey to measure the size and scope of homelessness in a community. 

“Every year we do it in January with the goal of trying to identify folks at a time when we’re hoping most people are in sheltered settings because of the weather,” Haro said. 

The count is reported to HUD and the same methodology has been used for the past 12 years. The number of people in emergency shelters increased from 144 in January 2021 to 228 in January 2022. 

“The most significant shift has just occurred over this past year and it’s directly related to the pandemic and also things that the pandemic has brought with it like high housing costs and lack of available affordable housing,” Haro said. 

During the pandemic, congregate shelters moved to non-congregate settings as people were set up with private rooms in hotels. TJACH has partnered with Virginia Supportive Housing and the Piedmont Housing Alliance to purchase the Red Carpet Inn on U.S. 29, which has been converted to an emergency shelter. More on that in a moment.

The Point in Time measures those in emergency shelters (ES), transitional housing (TH), and the unsheltered

Just under seventy percent of those counted are male, and 98 percent of those counted are individuals. Fifty-two percent are white, 41 percent are Black, and seven are listed as other. 

Haro said the number of people who were chronically homeless dropped from 76 in 2012 to 32 in 2014. He attributes that to the opening of the Crossings at Fourth and Preston, a 60-unit single room occupancy building built by Virginia Supportive Housing. That number has begun to increase and Haro said there’s a need for more housing. 

“The other real key component to address unsheltered homelessness is street outreach programs and so we have street outreach though the PATH program at Region 10 which is focused people living outside with mental health and or substance issues but those resources haven’t really changed significantly in a long time,” Haro said. 

The Point in Time count isn’t the only metric. Haro said TJACH also measures the total number of people served each year and that figure increased from 290 in 2013 to 528 in 2021. He also said people are staying longer in emergency shelters with the average length of stay in 2021 was 136 days. 

“Before the pandemic it was around 40 days, 30 to 40 days in shelter was the average,” Haro said. 

That leads to a lack of turnover in those shelters, leading to shortages in emergency shelter capacity. 

Haro said the forthcoming 81-unit project at Premier Circle will provide relief when it’s built, but it will take some time. Ground is expected break ground next May and will be supported by Low Income Housing Tax Credits as well as Housing Choice Vouchers. 

Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said constituents have asked him if TJACH had any outreach to people who panhandle on medians within the city. 

“Have you all, or is there a way to reach out to them, to say yes, here is service?” Wade said. “They say they see many of the same people in the same intersection and it concerns them. Sometimes they say it seems dangerous and I tell them there’s really not anything we can do.”

Haro said many of those individuals may not be homeless. Some may be paying for hotels and some may be living in their own places. 

“People choose to panhandle for many different reasons,” Haro said. “For some people it’s a social interaction activity and for other people they are paying to stay in a hotel that night and so it varies widely. We do have outreach workers who are familiar with many of those individuals. There are new individuals that pop up every now and again and that I see panhandling and I notify outreach team to see if they are aware of those individuals coming through.” 

ARB makes comments on Premier Circle project

On Monday, the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board took a look at the initial site for Premier Circle which involves construction of a four story building as part of a three building campus.. The property is within the county’s Entrance Corridor Review guidelines.

“The focus is largely on the site landscaping and the building design in the Entrance Corridor facing elevation of the first phase one building,” said Khris Taggart, a planner with Albemarle County. 

Staff recommended approval of the initial site plan with some recommendations for revisions. That means things like hiding electrical equipment from view, requiring windows to avoid blank walls, and to include a plan indicating how demolition of existing structures should proceed.

The building is being design by BRW Architects and they were represented by Whitney McDermott.

“The TJACH Premier Circle initial plan before you today is a component of a larger vision that is a partnership between the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for, Homeless, Virginia Supportive Housing who are developing the building before you today, and the Piedmont Housing Alliance,” McDermott said. 

McDermott said the design of the whole plan is to allow for the existing motel units to exist for as long as possible. 

The Piedmont Housing Alliance will eventually build a 60-unit multifamily building as part of phase 2 and the third phase will be a future mixed-use building. 

View the entire ARB meeting: