Heat wave prompts fresh call for public housing redevelopment

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The heat and humidity have been dangerously high with temperatures above 90 degrees, and some of Charlottesville's low-income residents may be struggling to stay cool.

According to the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA), Crescent Halls is the only public housing property with central air conditioning. Residents in CRHA’s remaining 271 units either buy their own A/C units or go without.

A CRHA spokesperson says residents without A/C can use the city's cooling centers on very hot days.

But activist Tanesha Hudson says the public housing situation and lack of central air is unacceptable.

"The walls sweat,” Hudson said. “It gets really hot in these units because it's cinderblock."

Hudson grew up in Westhaven and is an outspoken advocate for redeveloping Charlottesville's public housing. She says the same issues have existed for decades.

"They were arguing about the same thing when I was a kid living here," she said.

CRHA is preparing to redevelop Crescent Halls first, and Hudson says she now supports that, since all the residents there are elderly or disabled. But she says Westhaven, the oldest public housing development in the city, should come next.

Hudson says in the short term, the community could come together to make sure all public housing residents have working A/C units, but that isn't a permanent solution.

“Let's think long term,” she said. “I think sometimes we get comfortable here in Charlottesville with temporary fixes, and we really need to focus on the long term. Like, how do we make it better overall?"

Correction: CRHA is preparing to redevelop Crescent Halls, not the city. They are separate entities.

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