CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- It's a problem that's not unique to this area. Across the country, inflation is driving up the cost of living and wages are stagnant.

Pair that with an already existing shortage of affordable housing in Charlottesville and it makes for a tough dilemma.

The city has spent $46 million on affordable housing over the past 12 years, but the problem continues.

“The reality is that the market, on its own, is not going to provide housing for working-class people,” said Michael Payne, a member of the Charlottesville City Council.

He says it's a problem that needs more than just city council money to be addressed.

“If you look at the amount of affordable housing needed, even our affordable housing strategy, which calls for $10 million a year over a period of 10 years,” said Payne.

One potential solution would be to have the University of Virginia begin paying property taxes by entering into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, or PILOT.

“So if they paid the same property tax rate as everyone else they would pay $15 million a year,” said Payne.

That $15 million would be just 0.8 percent of UVA's $1.9 billion budget and would go a long way to addressing the housing issue in the city.

“Currently, they pay nothing and because of that, it creates a structural deficit to fund affordable housing and other needs while at the same time taking up real estate and having students live in houses that residents can't live in instead,” Payne said.

He also says a healthier local economy and job market are necessary to fix this issue.