Sunday, October 1, 2023

New work group formed to address housing affordability and balance in Williamsburg

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

A new work group is looking to bring affordability and rental balance to the neighborhoods of Williamsburg.

The Neighborhood Balance Committee has been formed by the City of Williamsburg to recommend strategies to balance between owner occupied and rental housing in neighborhoods, said city spokeswoman Lee Ann Hartmann.

“The question is in absentee renting property,” said City Manager Andrew Trivette. “Do they have less interest than someone living there? Are they going to care for the property as well?”

The new committee was formed as a result from the Biennial Goals and Initiatives discussions this past year, Trivette said.

Related story: Have thoughts about housing in Williamsburg? Wednesday is your chance to share them

Trivette said part of the issue with having such a popular location for rental property in Williamsburg is that it can drive up the cost of property in general. When there is potential for rental revenue from a property, owners can charge higher prices for purchase.

In a housing assessment for the city in 2018, the report found Williamsburg’s housing market has rising costs because of college students seeking off-campus housing, which drives the rental market. Additionally, it was found that housing in Williamsburg is older, smaller and more expensive on average than surrounding counties.

One of the goals of the group is to look at other college-oriented towns in the state and compare their rental models to see how it can be applied to Williamsburg, Hartmann said.

Hartmann did not immediately respond to clarify which cities would be considered.

“As we conducted those meetings, there were issues concerning what is the right mix of single occupied vs family directly adjacent to college,” Trivette said. “And cost is a primary issue.”

Members will be from the different stakeholders in the city, Trivett said, such as landlords, Realtors, representatives from the college and from the city.

Trivette said the first task will be to decide if there is a correct ratio of rental housing and owner occupied dwellings in the city. However, he said until the committee is fully formed, the process to analyze this ratio has not been decided.

Once it is, the next step will be to determine how to best reach that ratio. Since the work group is in its early stages, Trivette did not know how this process will take place.

Affordable housing in Williamsburg has been a discussion among residents and the city for a while now.

In September 2018, the city’s planning commission had a work session to hear from residents about topics, including affordability. Also in the 2018 National Citizen Survey, only a third of residents said there are affordable housing options in the city and less than half reported being satisfied with those options.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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