Higher incomes than previously reported would be eligible for Ferncliff housing

Affordable homes in a mixed-income development proposed at Ferncliff would be priced for families with incomes between 25 and 60 percent of the area median income, not below 25 percent as previously reported in The Central Virginian.

The under-25 percent figure appears to have been an error on Louisa County’s application for Community Project Funding, submitted to Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger’s office in the spring. 

Caitlin Riopel, director of regional housing for Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity, said her organization does not develop homes for individuals or families with incomes below 25 percent of the area median. Habitat is working with county officials on a possible development on 13 acres near Ferncliff Business Park. Some 80 housing units are planned, of which 25 would be designated as affordable.

Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry District), who worked with Habitat on the idea of a mixed-income housing project, confirmed on Tuesday that the correct income range is 25 to 60 percent of the area median.

A family of four earning 60 percent of the median income in Louisa County makes $44,700 annually, according to data provided by Riopel. By contrast, a family earning 25 percent of the median makes $18,625. Teachers, firefighters, police officers and other professionals who may not be able to afford a market-rate home, but make more than 25 percent of the median income, might qualify based on their incomes to live in the affordable Ferncliff units.

The median family income in the county is $74,500, which means half the families in the county make more and half make less.

In the county code, affordable housing is defined as a housing unit that is occupied by an individual or family that earns a low-to-moderate income and does not spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Families who buy homes from Habitat do not pay more than this amount, Riopel said.

Spanberger chose the Ferncliff housing development for possible federal funding from among three projects identified by the Louisa County Board of Supervisors. The other two were the New Bridge fire and emergency services station and the Lake Anna wastewater treatment plant. 

The congresswoman is seeking $775,000 in assistance for the housing development through Community Project Funding, a new process created this year by Congress to allow localities to request money for specific needs. The subsidy will make it possible to price homes for families that cannot afford new homes at market rates.

Connor Joseph, Spanberger’s communications director, said in a May 12 email that the congresswoman's staff had put the under-25 percent of median figure in its request for funding based on input from county officials. Riopel said the error is unlikely to affect the project’s chances of being funded.   

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