Sunshine Mathon

Sunshine Mathon


Sunshine Mathon has been the CEO of Piedmont Housing Alliance since August, 2017. Prior, he worked for 10 years as the design and development director for Foundation Communities, a non-profit organization in Austin, Texas that specializes in affordable housing.


How did the Friendship Court resident advisory committee form?

What’s the role of Claudette Grant as community organizer?

How were members of the resident advisory committee chosen?

What is the purpose of the resident advisory committee?

What was first moment of power for committee members?

Where were redevelopment plans when you got hired at PHA as CEO?

What approach did you take with residents when you first came on board?

Was there a sense of urgency around the redevelopment process?

Why did residents want the choice of living in either a townhome or an apartment building?

What did the 2016 master plan get right?

Why was it important to shorten the construction time period of redevelopment?

Were residents concerned about future social displacement?

Were residents concerned about how future roads will come through their neighborhood?

What happened after you identified these resident concerns?

Did residents have thoughts about whether income levels should be segregated throughout the future neighborhood?

How did residents adjust to the architectural learning curve?

What do you think about the resulting plan that they came up with?

How many phases will the redevelopment construction process take?

How does that affect multi-housing typologies? (Part 1)

How does that affect multi-housing typologies? (Part 2)

Did that affect the number of future units overall?

How did the redevelopment plan end up at the income tiers that it did?

Did you revisit this income balance again, more recently?

Will Section 8 units be in all four phases of redevelopment?

What will Phase 1 entail?

What will Phase 4 entail?

What’s the idea behind income-tiering?

How does Section 8 work in terms of rent and income?

Is there a civic benefit to people moving out into more expensive units?

What are the qualification processes for someone living in Section 8 housing versus slightly more expensive affordable housing covered by Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs)?

How will this plan help people stay in their neighborhood?

Can you give current Section 8 residents priority in applying for the slightly more expensive units?

How is a developers debt ratio related to the price of units in their development and government subsidies?

How do Low Income Housing Tax Credits help a project like this?

Is it first-come, first-serve for the units that LIHTC supports?

What sort of life circumstances are these subsidies intended to address?

Is the field of planning and architecture changing to be more resident-driven and community-engaged?

What are LIHTCs?

What’s the difference between 4 percent LIHTC and 9 percent LIHTC?

What do you do with the LIHTC after you’re awarded them?

Does the major financial institution that buys the tax credits from you have any say about the redevelopment process or details?

Does the value of LIHTCs fluctuate from year to year?

How are LIHTCs affected by a booming economy?

How did the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 affect LIHTCs?

Do LIHTCs cover every cost, or are there limits?

Is there a funding gap even if you get the LIHTC and city funding? How do the rents of each unit affect your debt?

How do you shrink your debt for a project of this size? How is that balances with rental affordability for residents?

What are the other challenges in pursuing different funding streams?

What are developer fees and how do they play into a non-profit’s viability?

Why don’t more for-profit developers build affordable housing?

Does the city’s reconsideration of housing and development rules cause developers to be trepidatious?

What do you know at this point about how much the cost of construction and materials will be for Friendship Court’s redevelopment?

How have parking requirements impacted the redevelopment plan and its phasing?

How does the early childhood center play into the redevelopment plan?

What’s going to happen to the fence around Friendship Court?

What’s not in the recent Housing Needs Assessment report?

What do you think about the idea that, in order to free up more affordable housing, developers need to build more market-rate units to take the pressure off?

Do all developers just want to build market rate units?

How does the cost of land make the city’s need for 3,318 more units of affordable housing translate into thousands of additional market-rate units as well?

Are people in Charlottesville overpaying in rent? Could we tackle affordable housing by raising people’s incomes?

Are the city’s housing needs a moving target?

What is UVa’s role in addressing the city’s housing needs?

Is a land bank an effective tool to create more affordable housing?

How does zoning come into play, both with Friendship Court and with affordable housing in the city more generally?

How will the businesses surrounding Friendship Court affect the future of it?

How do we create better jobs for surrounding residents at businesses nearby, like breweries?

What about businesses as part of Friendship Court’s redevelopment?

What will the early childhood center at Friendship Court look like?

Why is PHA hiring an economic opportunity coordinator at Friendship Court? (Pt. 1)

Why is PHA hiring an economic opportunity coordinator at Friendship Court? (Pt. 2)

Is PHA wanting to establish a Family Self-Sufficiency program in Friendship Court too?

Could the early childhood center also be a job generator for Friendship Court residents?

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.