Claudette Grant

Claudette Grant


Claudette Grant is the community organizer at Friendship Court for Piedmont Housing Alliance.


How did you come to be the community organizer at Friendship Court? Where have you worked prior to this job?

Was your hiring a part of a broader shift by PHA towards more community engagement?

What does your job entail, day-to-day? How did you build trust with residents?

How does that building of trust impact the redevelopment planning process? How did that lead to the creation of the resident advisory committee?

Did you have concerns about holding the election for members on the resident advisory committee?

How did the Youth Leadership Group evolve out of the election?

How have you seen the resident advisory committee evolve? When did you see them first experience really having a voice?

How have you seen residents not on the committee come forward with feelings about the redevelopment process?

What’s the relationship like between residents in Friendship Court and the surrounding community? The Downtown Mall, for example?

Do you feel like you need to protect residents from outsiders trying to use them?

Charlottesville is still very segregated, how could the mixed-income approach to redeveloping Friendship Court affect that?

Have you heard residents with concerns about mixed-income housing in Friendship Court?

Where do plans for the early childhood center stand?

What advice around community-engagement would you give other people wanting to do this work?

What have you learned through this resident-driven redevelopment process?

What was the trip up to Washington, D.C. like with residents to look at mixed-income communities there?

How has this job as community organizer changed you? Do you feel a part of the community at Friendship Court?

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.