‘Fair and equitable for all’: City hands over employee workforce housing program to housing authority

A Google Maps screenshot shows a stretch of Longhill Road where the City of Williamsburg owns some properties that are rented to city employees as workforce housing. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Google Maps)
A Google Maps screenshot shows a stretch of Longhill Road where the City of Williamsburg owns some properties that are rented to city employees as workforce housing. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Google Maps)

As discussions about increasing workforce housing swirl around the Historic Triangle, the city of Williamsburg is working to do its part in giving its employees an affordable place to live.

At its regular monthly meeting Thursday, City Council unanimously voted to authorize the Williamsburg Regional Housing Authority to formally manage the city’s workforce housing program, which owns properties available for city employees to rent. 

There are six properties owned by the city and housing authority along Longhill Road, Waller Mill Road, Scotland Street and Strawberry Lane. Those properties can be occupied by city employees who meet income requirements and are “on-call” workers.

“What a great mission to be able to house some of our city employees who otherwise might not be able to live in this area,” said Councilman Benming Zhang.

The authorization Thursday allows the Williamsburg Regional Housing Authority to take over managing the city’s previously informal workforce housing. It can now manage the properties designated by City Manager Andrew Trivette.

The authority, led by Executive Director Tyrone Franklin, was previously tasked with creating a formal workforce housing program for city employees. With those guidelines and procedures in place, Thursday’s hand-off gives full authority to the WRHA.

The WRHA is a nonprofit that has members of City Council on its Board of Commissioners. It aims to provide “safe, decent and affordable shelter as well as economic opportunity for those of greatest need” in Williamsburg.

The guidelines will help the authority figure out what employees can qualify for the workforce housing based on a scoring system, Mayor Paul Freiling said.

Through the process, the scoring system will rank applications based on how well the applicant’s family size fits with the size of the home. Candidates will also be chosen based on income.

Employees with on-call statuses will also be given preference. 

“We’re creating a greater definition to the process so we know it’ll be fair,” Freiling said. “It makes everything transparent.”

Freiling said the city’s workforce housing has been available to city employees for a “number of years.”

Of the city-owned housing options, two are currently vacant, Trivette said. One location has never been in the workforce housing program.

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