I am a longtime Charlottesville resident who grew up in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood before it was destroyed. I was disappointed to read the June 1 letter to the editor, “Urban Neighborhoods at Risk of Damage,” which compared current proposals to allow affordable housing in historically excluded neighborhoods to house destruction. of my childhood.
For decades before its shameful destruction, Vinegar Hill was a thriving black community, with many owner-occupied homes and black-owned businesses. The adults worked hard and the children played. It was a good place to live.
The city of Charlottesville paved Vinegar Hill because they didn’t want my community to interfere with their downtown redevelopment plans. As a result, many residents of Vinegar Hill, including my family, were moved from the homes most families owned and moved to the Hardy Drive public housing complex, which was built at roughly the same time. Many descendants still live in low-cost housing today, without the intergenerational wealth that would have been theirs if their family home had not been destroyed.
I have seen the displacement of black Charlottesvillians continue throughout my adult life in more subtle ways. Increasingly, as rising property taxes force black families out of their homes in historically black neighborhoods, such as Fifeville and 10th and Page, white families are moving in.