Local Habitat joins national campaign focusing on affordable housing

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The local Habitat for Humanity has joined Habitat organizations and partners from across the country to launch a new national advocacy and housing solutions campaign called the Cost of Home.

The campaign aims to improve home affordability for ten million people in the United States over the next five years, including in Charlottesville.

According to a release, nearly 19 million households in the country spend at least half of their income on a place to list, which means often forgoing other necessities like food and health care.

In Charlottesville, half of city residents pay more than they can afford for housing.

On Wednesday, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville hosted a kickoff event for the campaign, in partnership with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Affordable Housing Coalition.

During the event, Dan Rosensweig, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, explained that one in six American families pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, and affordable housing interventions are needed for 12,000 households in this area.

He also said solving the problem will require dynamic solutions spanning emergency shelters, permanent supported housing, and affordable rental and homeownership, all requiring collaboration among community organizations and policymakers at the federal, state and local level.

Several people shared their stories, including one woman who was homeless and is now a resident of The Crossings, another who went from public housing in the city to an apartment in the country with a housing voucher, and an immigrant who wants to stay in Charlottesville for its opportunities but is struggling to find a home he can afford for his family of seven.

Over time, many communities in Charlottesville have changed, many becoming more expensive.

"Belmont used to be an area where you could purchase a house on a decent salary," said Pastor Kendrick Edwards, who has lived in the Belmont neighborhood in Charlottesville for more than 30 years.

Now though, he has seen many long-time residents who were forced to sell their homes due to rising property taxes, comparing Charlottesville to a game of Monopoly. He would like the city to re-examine its tax policies.

"There aren't many Baltics and Connecticuts in Charlottesville," said Edwards. "We have a lot of Park Places and Boardwalks."

For more information on the Cost of Home campaign, click on the link in the Related Links box.

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