I am writing to express my support for the Oakland Pointe workforce housing in Norge, which our Board of Supervisors will soon vote on.
James City County has long had a great need for housing for lower-paid workers who provide services in the county. According to the workforce housing taskforce, the majority of county residents are in favor of economic diversity in our housing. However, when it comes to actual housing located in their areas, some, it seems, resort to the “Not in my Back Yard” line of thinking.
A few facts:
The proposed housing is not low-income housing. It is for working people who are largely those who serve us every day: people such as service/hospitality workers in restaurants, hair and nail salons, retail stores, public and private school staff, hospital staff, transportation workers, police officers and more. I am grateful for the services that these workers provide to our community, and welcome them into my neighborhood.
Many of the above named workers now find themselves needing to live elsewhere such as Newport News, New Kent, Charles City and Gloucester. So, in addition to being at a lower pay scale, they must spend more on gas and auto maintenance to do their jobs. This housing would provide better access to those jobs, both by car (most have automobiles) and by bus, as the proposed housing is right on the public WATA route.
Younger people recently out of college, as well as skilled laborers starting out, find it almost impossible to find local, affordable rental housing, even after working at local jobs for 5-10 years. In addition to these citizens, retired persons on a fixed income find themselves unable to find housing that costs no more than a third of their income, an accepted standard for ability to live economically without undue hardship. This housing could provide for those two groups, as well as others, such as those who are working their way up to a better paying job — perhaps young adults saving up for a down payment on a home.
While any housing off of Richmond Road will increase traffic, as has recently happened with the Candle Factory homes, this can be mitigated by lane adjustment, traffic lights, turn lanes and more. It will also likely increase use of our public bus transportation, which is a desirable outcome. Some who now must drive to a job may be able to use public transportation.
I have lived in Norge for 49 years. It is a great place to live. I welcome new people who will help to make this a more mixed, diverse neighborhood, which will increase our quality of life. Builder and county planners have taken steps to ensure the new community will be a well maintained, inclusive and safe neighborhood. I believe the benefits are definitely great enough to proceed with the approval of this housing.