Group discusses housing needs

Published 6:28 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Prince Edward County-Town of Farmville Housing Coalition (PECTFHC), Richmond-based nonprofit Better Housing Coalition (BHC), and Urban Design Associates (UDA) held public meetings July 25 and July 27 to gather input on reimagining Longwood Village.

STEPS, the area’s community action agency, is the facilitator for a core group of individuals, nonprofits, anchor institutions and faith community representatives that began working on housing solutions in 2018. A roundtable discussion encouraged by Piedmont Habitat for Humanity and hosted by Farmville Mayor David Whitus started the process. That momentum has led to the formation of the PECTFHC.

Longwood Village, accessed off Clark Street in Farmville behind Sheetz, previously housed Longwood University students but now could address the community’s long-term housing needs. The community offered comments in the two meetings that will aid plans to reimagine the existing eight buildings and ninety-six housing units in a first phase of development and the development of approximately ten acres in a second phase.

PECTFHC is partnering with Better Housing Coalition (BHC), a non-profit agency based in Richmond, to reimagine Longwood Village. BHC intends to sign a letter of intent with the Longwood Real Estate Foundation to purchase the property, and the two are working with Urban Design Associates to make the housing dreams of the community come true.

Harrup said a core group from PECTFHC met with BHC and visited multiple properties. “They found a shared connection — a ‘synergy.’ It was precisely the partnering fit they were looking for — a non-profit with a proven record, experience, expertise, willingness to come into a new region and shared values,” Harrup said. “Their model is that everybody deserves the right to safe, affordable housing. And, when we saw that, the core group of us knew immediately this is the partner that we want to bring to Farmville.”

STEPS, the area’s community action agency, served as host of the July meetings.

“We are delighted that so many from the community participated in this reimagining process,” said STEPS, Inc. President and CEO Sharon Harrup. “This is a community project — which means all of us working together to provide affordable, accessible housing. We needed voices to help us map the future and the input we received gives us a clear direction.”

An estimated eighty attended the July 25 meeting held at the Moton Museum; 120 attended a formal presentation of design options July 27. Faith leaders from Farmville’s Interfaith Collective opened the evening with a dialogue centered on how “The Golden Rule” is applied in different faiths.  This discussion set a positive tone for the evening. 

Longwood University President W. Taylor Reveley IV, Farmville Mayor David Whitus and Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors Chair Dr. Odessa Pride offered welcomes and pledged support of this community-led initiative.   

“Planners will use the information gathered at both sessions to develop specific designs,” Harrup said. “This is a process that will take some time, but we are excited about the possibilities.”   

A 2019 housing study conducted by HDAdvisors revealed that there is inadequate inventory to meet the local housing demand. The study found that there will be new demand for 48 households per year on average over the next two decades; affordable rental options are the primary housing gap; higher-end apartments are in demand; senior housing needs are acute and growing; and employment trends will influence future housing demand.

For more information, contact Sharon Harrup, STEPS, (434) 315-5909 Ext 212 or sharrup@STEPS-inc.org.