Tamara Wright

Tamara Wright


Tamara Wright has lived in Friendship Court since 2006 and is a member of the resident advisory committee that designed the neighborhood’s plan for redevelopment. She is a Christian, the mother of four, and runs a business as a jewelry maker.


How did you get involved with the resident advisory committee?

How have you seen the community-engagement process evolve?

What are some of the things the committee’s had a role in deciding?

Why did you want to reduce the total number of future units to 450 from as many as 640?

Do most residents trust Piedmont Housing Alliance at this point?

Did you get to interview the architects before PHA hired one?

What are your thoughts on the changes happening in the surrounding neighborhood?

Can the community-engagement process you’ve done in Friendship Court with PHA be a model for the rest of the city?

Do you think mixed-income housing can work with the first generation or does it take a while for it to work?

Is there a stigma that’s historically been attached to Friendship Court?

What was your thinking behind creating a mixed-income and tiered structure for housing in Friendship Court?

Do you want to move into one of the market rate units eventually?

What kinds of businesses would you like to see more of in this area?

What are some of the changes to the master plan that you like the most?

How has Charlottesville changed since you were a kid?

Have you experienced racism in Charlottesville?

What do you think should be done with the fence around Friendship Court?

Has anyone talked about changing the name of Friendship Court to something else?

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.