Zafar Khan

Zafar Khan


Zafar Khan has lived in Friendship Court since 2015 and is a member of the resident advisory committee that designed the neighborhood’s plan for redevelopment. Before coming to the United States through the International Rescue Committee, he worked for the United Nations in his home country of Afghanistan.


How did you get involved in the resident advisory committee at Friendship Court?

What it’s been like serving on the committee?

Has the resident advisory committee process evolved over time? What was it like to choose the architecture firm?

What do residents who are not on the committee think about the redevelopment process?

Were the concerns of refugee residents thoroughly addressed?

Do you think many refugees will want to stay after redevelopment?

Have you seen Charlottesville change in the three years since you moved here?

Do you have any advice for people interested in doing community-engaged work in other places?

Is there anything in the redevelopment process that you feel has worked especially well? Would you give folks who want to do this work any advice?

Is the United States what you expected it would be when you were living in Afghanistan or is it different?

Where do you want to be two to three years from now?

What are your hopes for this redevelopment project?

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.