Council apologizes for Vinegar Hill

  • The City Council apologizes for razing the historically black neighborhood, Vinegar Hill in the 1960’s.
  • The resolution reads: “Now therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned members of the Charlottesville City Council recognize the African-American owned businesses, homes and property that were destroyed or damaged by the razing of Vinegar Hill; acknowledge that the events leading to the destruction of this neighborhood did not adequately include those who were to be affected; mourn the lost sense of community caused by the demolition of this neighborhood; and for the harm caused we do hereby apologize for the City government’s role in the destruction of the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood, and affirm that the lessons learned from the City’s actions will be remembered.”
  • Educator Alicia Lugo says black residents in Charlottesville are still ignored and marginalized.

You look right at us. You look right through us. And you never know our names because you don’t care enough to ask… Our neighborhoods have been gentrified and a thousand of our population have been displaced. We have a black city manager, a Dialogue on Race and a very nice apology for Vinegar Hill. But black people continue to be economically, academically and electorally disenfranchised.

— Alicia Lugo, community activist and educator

The Reimagining of Friendship Court

By Jordy Yager

The redevelopment of Friendship Court is slated to be the largest new construction of low-income housing undertaken in Charlottesville in more than two decades. The plan alone is groundbreaking, having been directly created by current Section 8 residents in partnership with Piedmont Housing Alliance. City staff calls it the most nuanced and complex plan they’ve ever encountered. It ambitiously attempts to balance promises of zero resident displacement with the city’s broader affordable housing needs, while also calling for hundreds of new, likely higher-income, residents to move in, as residents hope to de-stigmatize the lasting effects of poverty born out of generations of racist government policy and neglect.

This year will be the make-or-break year for Friendship Court’s redevelopment efforts. Millions of dollars in city, federal, and private funding stand between the massive plan and the highly anticipated 2020 groundbreaking. And while the green lights have begun to align and most residents are excited, the plan has its critics — those who call for greater levels of resident autonomy, greater security measures to guard against social and cultural displacement, and greater reparations for past wrongs.

In crafting this project, we’ve tried to tackle all of this and more by separating the longer narratives into five major questions:

Part 1: What is the plan?
Part 2: How did we get here?
Part 3: Does mixed-income housing work?
Part 4: Who does Friendship Court belong to?
Part 5: What’s next?

But we also wanted to give you access to as much of our reporting as possible, so we’ve created a timeline that details the history of this area, dating back 150 years, through the use of more than 130 maps, documents, archived articles, and photographs. Similarly, we wanted you to actually hear each of the two dozen long-form interviews we conducted, and not merely the portions we’ve included in the individual stories. So we’ve included more than 300 audio clips throughout the story: in the articles, the timeline, and on each person’s profile page. Our hope is that with all this, more of the picture will begin to emerge, and that, as we stand ready to make powerful and significant changes in the city, we all can help craft the solutions.