Housing – Petersburg
Defining the Problem
The need for housing is a prominent issue all over the US and the same is true within the Cameron service area and specifically, the city of Petersburg. Lack of affordable housing partnered with impoverished residents, creates a non-conducive environment for homeownership and economic progression. Many residents in the city are paying up to 50% of their income in rent. Over the last two decades, housing built in the Commonwealth of Virginia has been four times that which had been built in Petersburg. Furthermore, three cities within the service area, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg have the lowest ownership rates in the region. A majority of the homes within Petersburg were built in the 1950s and 60s. According to the 2000 US Census, Petersburg has the largest share of vacant housing in the region. Of all vacant homes, 17.9% need kitchen facilities and 13% need plumbing facilities. These statistics demonstrate that there is a significant opportunity for placement, development and revitalization to take place.
The basic necessities in life: food, health, clothing, safety and shelter. Unfortunately, due to the economic down turn, shelter has been a need that has become difficult to maintain for many. As an example, during the third quarter of 2009, nearly one million homes had foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. Having shelter provides security, establishes stability and without that important foundation, many are forced to move frequently without consistent education, work, and are faced with a plethora of other negating issues. It is evident that the quality of life experienced by an individual is directly affected by housing. Without affordable housing options, it leaves many to homelessness. Every year 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness - this includes men, women, children and the elderly. Beyond that, lack of housing, a significant societal component correlates with negative socioeconomic factors.
Addressing housing issues is part of a comprehensive need to address the socioeconomic challenge facing the nation. Confronting the conflict corrects homelessness, enhances housing quality and promotes housing diversity. Although all segments of the U.S. population currently reflect high ownership rates, large gaps exist when comparing various groups of the population. Moreover, the depth of need exceeds basic quantitative analysis. Differing populations need more than a “roof,” they need up-to-date, sanctioned shelter guaranteed to fulfill its purpose. This includes the elderly population which faces several significant challenges in housing as well, specifically housing supportive services for safe and accessible living.
What Can We Do?
In June 2011, a Housing and Community Development Summit was held to identify and define the prominent issues impacting the lack of equitable housing choices in the City of Petersburg. Within the City of Petersburg, community leaders, developers, area non-profits as well as The Cameron Foundation recognized a significant opportunity to synergize existing development and revitalization initiatives. This was done by creating an opportunity for those involved in community development to convene on issues surrounding housing and development in Petersburg, to in turn foster new collaborative endeavors. The need for collaboration arose from the disparaging statistics that Petersburg has the highest number of vacant homes in the region according to U.S. Census data. Since the initial Housing and Community Development Summit was held, there have been several follow-up efforts such as: a Community Developer’s Luncheon, a City Bus Tour and a Resources Enabling Affordable Community Housing (REACH) Virginia Workshop. The Community Developer’s Luncheon continued the dialogue the Summit began, and focused on developers aligning their efforts with those of the City, resulting in a $60 million dollar commitment for development. The last follow-up to the 2011 Summit, the REACH Virginia workshop, focused on convening housing stakeholders in an effort to discuss sustainable development opportunities for homeownership, mixed-use and mixed-income communities.
On June 27th 2012, the 2nd annual Housing and Community Development Summit will be held, with the goal of expanding upon last year’s efforts by creating a synergistic approach to development. The primary goal of this year’s summit will be to highlight the efforts underway and outline those that need to take place in order to provide decent safe housing for residents of Petersburg, while enhancing the overall economic outlook of the City. The purpose behind the 2012 Summit is to foster sustainable development opportunities while simultaneously creating more equitable housing choices in Petersburg. Over the course of the day the intent is to identify and foster initiatives that effectively and efficiently align their development goals with those of the City of Petersburg and The Cameron Foundation. The City’s various initiatives will also be revisited and the focus will be to stretch and leverage resources for neighborhood revitalization.
The 2nd annual Housing and Community Development Summit will commence with a celebratory moment featuring highlights of the City by Mayor Brian Moore. This will be followed by facilitated conversations on soaring examples covering such topics as: project financing, forming partnerships to sustain development, addressing political challenges of development and assessing the impact for neighborhoods. There will also be an opportunity to participate in a reality check, as a way for participants to engage in discussion about how we (the City and the community) can get there. The keynote speaker for the day Mr. Herman Brewer, Bureau Chief for Economic Development in Cook County, Illinois, will close the day out with an enlightening talk on ways to connect people and efforts that move neighborhoods forward.
For more information on the Housing and Community Development Summit hosted by The Cameron Foundation and the City of Petersburg, including registration please access the following links:
To locate information about housing in the City of Petersburg, please visit any housing-affiliated organization listed on the GiveSouthsideVa Learn Tab or go to the links below.
Some of the Participating Organizations: