Those of us in the Charlottesville affordable housing sector work in the shadow of a project from the age of “urban renewal.” The destruction of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood haunts virtually every housing decision in the public eye, as well it should. Projects like Vinegar Hill were propagated all over the country, resulting in the dispersal of unified communities and, in Charlottesville’s case, in the creation of public housing and other pockets of concentrated poverty.
As the buildings built during this era come to the end of their useful lives, in city after city there is policy debate about what is the next step. In this article by GWU Sociologist Gregory Squires, the author indicates that even those united by a belief in housing justice are divided in the method that the policy should follow. What is clear here in Charlottesville is that there will be never again be a project as destructive to the community as Vinegar Hill.