Blacksburg plans to address affordable housing in 2021

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:49 PM EST
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The increasing lack of affordable housing in Blacksburg has become a major topic of community concern.

Now that it is 2021, the town is taking a closer look at strategies to help address the issue.

Ethan Bass is a mechanical engineering student who is about to graduate, so he knows what it is like to look for housing as a student and a local resident.

“Yeah, it is not easy,” said Bass.

He and other residents say there’s a lot that goes into looking for something affordable.

“It kind of worries me that I am going to be stuck in this cycle forever,” said Bass.

Blacksburg town leaders say they are aware of the issue and they have a few strategies.

“We wanted to encourage folks to participate in—we launched an affordable housing public engagement process and we are in the first phase,” said Kim Thurlow, the housing and community development initiatives manager of Blacksburg and New River Valley HOME Consortium.

Leaders are using the ‘Let’s Talk Blacksburg’ site to try to get feedback from the community on what their next steps could be.

“There’s been a lot of student development approvals, but we really need to now focus on housing that’s affordable to other segments of the community,” said Thurlow.

The town says they will take the feedback from ‘Let’s Talk Blacksburg’ and build on it in the next phases throughout the year.

“There’s a whole range of things that we’re looking at and a lot of that depends on what our community feels is comfortable to them, in terms of increased density and the look and the feel and the community, character of the community, and what our community values the most, “said Thurlow.

Thurlow says this is the first step they are taking to help folks like Ethan, who are looking to build a strong foundation and home in Blacksburg.

“I really do like this area and there are lot of different opportunities for somebody with my skillset here,” said Bass.

Democratic Delegate Chris Hurst did present a bill that could limit Blacksburg student housing to help the towns long-term residents.

The bill will be reviewed by the General Assembly when it begins its session January 13.

To register and start engaging on this issue, click here..

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