Charlottesville City Hall

DAILY PROGRESS FILE

Charlottesville City Hall

The Charlottesville City Council is considering creating a department of equity and inclusion.

At its meeting Monday, the council will receive a report on the costs required to create the department.

In August, the council backed the plan for the city manager’s advisory committee on equity to continue examining what it would take to create the department.

The committee was started when Mike Murphy, now deputy city manager, served as interim city manager.

The committee studied data on city employees by race, job category and salary. It also reviewed equity measures in other communities.

Of the city’s 935 full-time employees, about 71% are white, 23% are black and 6% are another race or of mixed race, according to the report. Charlottesville’s population is 69.7% white and 18.7% black.

Black employees make on average 17% less per hour than white employees. For white employees, the average is $25.60, compared with $21.30 for black employees. These figures are for wages overall and do not compare the pay of people in the same job.

The committee recommended creating an equity advisory team to lead a culture change in the city. The 10- to 12-member committee would include one councilor and representatives from city staff, management and the community.

Another recommendation was creating the department of equity and inclusion to lead equity efforts.

The office would include a data analyst and community engagement coordinator who report to the city manager. It also would influence policy and implement recommendations from the equity advisory team in concert with the City Manager’s Office.

According to a staff report, it would cost about $191,000 to establish the department and lead a culture change effort.

The funding is proposed to come from the Council Strategic Initiatives Fund, which has $444,560.

However, $284,700 is previously dedicated funding that has yet to actually have been spent and city staff members recommend that the funding for the equity department come from that set of money.

The unallocated money includes leftover funding from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Memorials, Race and Public Spaces and money set aside to match funding for a monument to Vinegar Hill, an African American community that the city razed in the 1960s.

Affordable housing

In other business Monday, the council could allocate nearly $800,000 to two affordable housing projects.

The allocation is part of the yearly distribution of money in the city’s Affordable Housing Fund.

The city received five applications for funding and city staff members have recommended two projects.

The majority of funding, $750,000, would go to Virginia Supportive Housing for The Crossings II.

The project would be similar to The Crossings at Fourth Street and Preston Avenue, which provides homeless people with a place to live.

The Crossings II would cost about $14.7 million and have 80 units, including 12 accessible to those with disabilities.

The units would be available for people who make no more than 50% of area median income.

Virginia Supportive Housing doesn’t own the property needed for the project, but expects a lease by early 2020.

The building would be at 405 Levy Ave. and 405 Avon St.

City staff recommends that about $42,000 go to the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, which applied for $600,000 to support critical rehabilitation and emergency repairs for low-income city homeowners.

If Virginia Supportive Housing doesn’t secure a site, staff recommends fully funding the AHIP request.

Councilor Heather Hill said the projects reflect a way for the city to stretch dollars and leverage other funding for affordable units.

“The city shouldn’t be in a position where it’s fully funding these projects,” she said. “We should be able to leverage these partnerships with other funding providers. … It’s more difficult to support those projects where the city is the primary funding source.”

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City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, nstout@dailyprogress.com, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

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