Area nonprofits resort to buying a hotel to address local housing and homelessness crisis

Charlottesville Tomorrow: Every year, a roaming homeless shelter opens for the winter months in the Charlottesville area

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no need to restate the havoc it has wrought so far on billions of lives all over the world. We’ve been living it daily: the isolation, the fear, the sadness, the overwhelming and all-consuming grief.

But this one public health crisis has helped alleviate another across the U.S. and here in the Charlottesville area: homelessness. And what began in April 2020 as an effort to provide safe and secure shelter for a few dozen folks experiencing homelessness (adults and children) for the duration of the pandemic has evolved from a temporary housing fix into a housing solution.

It’s not an easy solution, however, and it’s one that addresses, in a variety of ways, the myriad challenges of finding and building reasonably affordable and safe emergency shelter and housing in the Charlottesville area. It’s a solution that proves addressing complex problems can be done, when there’s time, initiative and money to devote to them.

In March, with the help of a $4.25 million grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) purchased the 405 Premier Circle property — the Red Carpet Inn — on U.S. 29 in Albemarle County. The site will be used for a yearslong multi-phase project that will aim to solve chronic homelessness and other types of housing issues in the area, starting — hopefully — at the end of this month.

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