Disabled Residents Complex To Council

Commission Backs Authority Proposal

Posted: May 10, 2013

HARRISONBURG — The Harrisonburg Planning Commission has recommended City Council approve the development of the area’s first housing complex for people with disabilities.
The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority applied for a rezoning request and special-use permit to the Planning Commission to build 30 units on Commerce Drive.
The panel unanimously recommended its approval Wednesday. City Council will make a final decision June 11.
The development is called Commerce Village and will be on 2 acres at 241 Commerce Drive, near East Washington Street. It will serve people with disabilities, those with unstable housing situations and people with medical issues, HRHA Executive Director Michael Wong said.
According to the housing authority’s January homeless survey, 40 people living in the city’s homeless shelters, including 17 veterans, would qualify for the new complex.
Commerce Village will offer “permanent supportive housing,” a type of housing that gets people in, stabilizes them and “wraps” services, such as counseling, around them, Wong said.
Residents must work or perform community service, he said, and weekly home inspections are conducted initially, then converted to monthly and annual checks. Each resident also must develop a five-year housing to plan to identify steps to be self-sufficient.
No more than two unrelated people will live in a unit.
Low-income tax credits and federal grants will fund construction of the estimated $2.4 million project. Wong said he had no plans to request financial assistance from City Council. If HRHA is successful in obtaining tax credits this year, construction could begin as early as January and finish in September 2014.
Friendly Neighbor
The housing authority previously eyed land on East Gay Street for the development, but neighborhood residents opposed it.
City staff and the Planning Commission also felt the idea went against Harrisonburg’s comprehensive plan for the area.
The Commerce Drive parcel, however, is a match, staff and commissioners say. HRHA owns it, as it does the East Gay site, but it is also adjacent to Pleasant View Home Inc., which serves people with disabilities on Commerce Drive.
Nancy Hopkins-Garriss, Pleasant View’s executive director, said the home’s residents could live in Commerce Village, and village residents could benefit from the services at the home, or even work there.
HRHA needed to rezone its property from R-3c, a form of residential zoning, to a less restrictive residential designation. Once the commission approved the new zoning, the housing authority needed a special-use permit to build 30 multifamily units.
The development will have three buildings, and HRHA will work with the Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation to put a bus stop in front of the property.
If the bus stop does not work, commissioners asked the housing authority to build sidewalk from the village’s entrance to East Washington Street.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com

NDN Video News