Albemarle County endorses Habitat for Humanity to redevelop Southwood

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A local nonprofit and Albemarle County will be working together to help one local community.

More than ten years ago, the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville took a risk by purchasing Southwood Mobile Home Park. The nonprofit hoped to turn the community into something more for its residents.

Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, Dan Rosensweig, said it is what the organization felt it had to do.

“It’s a risk that’s based on ethical and moral imperative. We need to do it,” Rosensweig said.

In October 2016, Habitat’s goals were closer than ever. The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan that would allow the organization and the county to act together.

On Wednesday night, the board endorsed this collaborative project.

“This vote by the board yesterday just kind of puts wind in the sails of this progress,” Rosensweig said.

With the endorsement came $675,000 in funding to begin the first phase of the redevelopment. Board Chair Ann Mallek said it is a great investment for the county.

“It’s a situation where the county can invest dollars, and they’re significant dollars, but they will still be multiplied 10 and 20 times,” Mallek said.

Habitat for Humanity plans to remove Southwood’s 341 current homes and build 700 to 800 new ones, without displacing the current residents. Rosensweig said residents are excited to begin the process.

“They see it as the community putting their arm around them, saying, ‘you matter and we care and we’re going to support you 100 percent,'” he said.

Mallek said this collaborative project will have a large impact on the future.

“When it succeeds, this will be a model where so much more can be done in other places. In Albemarle, across the country, it’s a new model. This isn’t done anywhere now,” she said.

Habitat for Humanity hopes that by the end of this year, it will be ready to have the community’s rezoning application approved.

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