Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority purchases property with plans to help address affordable housing crisis

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:05 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s clear that Roanoke is in an affordable housing crisis. The Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) recently purchased a 12-acre property in northwest Roanoke near the Shenandoah Avenue and Peters Creek Road intersection. The hope is that in the coming years, it will help address the crisis.

“One of the first goals for us was to be able to find land that we could build on. Land here in Roanoke City is very hard to find, and the ones that you do find are either way out of our price range, or the topography just doesn’t allow for the type of building that we’re trying to do,” said David Bustamante, executive director of RRHA.

RRHA found this property and learned it was owned by Virginia Housing. The worry was that RRHA wasn’t the only organization bidding for it.

“We shared with them that our missions are similar. We’re trying to provide affordable housing and we reminded them with the crisis that we’re having. And fortunately, we got a call back and said, yes, we’re going to go ahead and allow you to purchase the property from us. We’re very grateful to Virginia Housing; like I said before, land is the first step of trying to do anything.”

RRHA’s bid was $750,000 and Bustamante said phase one involves building an 86-unit complex that would bring a variety of bedroom layouts.

“Every day that goes by, the number of available affordable units becomes less and the number of people that need them is more, and that number grows every day. It’s 86 units, and considering the need, 86 units might not seem like a lot, but it’s a good start for us. And again, we have to do something that we are going to be able to sustain.”

Bustamante said the units will be subsidized and will become available to the thousands on the waitlist in need of affordable housing.

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to make the units subsidized, and then we’re going to open up our waitlist, we’re going to advertise it, obviously market it and as many people as apply, we’ll start to draw names down in the first 86, depending on preferences and everything else, the first 86 families will be housed in these new units.”

RRHA now owns the 12-acre parcel, but Bustamante said there are two others on the property that if they want to develop in the future, they’ll consider purchasing. If all goes to plan, the hope is that the first families will be able to move in by 2026.

RRHA serves more than 5,000 families in the Roanoke area.