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Concern for students paramount
University Of Virginia To Fund City Housing Inspector

January 19, 2005 --

Concern for the well-being of its students living off-Grounds prompted University of Virginia officials to enter into an agreement to boost the city of Charlottesville’s housing inspection operations.

Charlottesville’s City Council gave final approval tonight to the two-year pilot program, under which U.Va. will fund an additional property maintenance inspector position at an approximate total cost of $115,000. The new inspector will concentrate his or her efforts on off-Grounds student housing areas within the city, primarily in the Lewis Mountain, Jefferson Park Avenue, Venable and 10th Street/Page Street neighborhoods.

Parents of U.Va. students increasingly have expressed concerns that off-Grounds student housing was substandard, said Leonard W. Sandridge, U.Va.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“The city told us that they did not have sufficient staffing to inspect any significant number of the units rented to students, but they did not object to the concept of inspecting these units,” Sandridge said. “So, together we developed this plan.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students, whether they live on-Grounds or off-Grounds. This is an example of the city and University joining forces to achieve something that we could not do independently.”

“This new partnership with the University of Virginia is centered on improving the high quality of life we have here in our community,” said Charlottesville Mayor David Brown. “It will undoubtedly enhance our ability to monitor code violations in the area surrounding the University, and as a result our current inspectors will be able to concentrate more of their time on improving the look and feel of the rest of our neighborhoods in the City.”

The city currently has two full-time inspectors and a supervisor to oversee 17,000 rental units. Generally, they follow up on complaints, although they may proactively seek violations on the exterior of buildings, said Jim Tolbert, director of Neighborhood Development Services.

The inspector also will work with the city fire marshal’s office to enforce fire code compliance.

The city will hire, manage and supervise the new inspector, and will report to the University every three months the number of inspections conducted and citations issued. The new position could be filled by Feb. 1, Tolbert said.

The starting salary of the new inspector is expected to be between $35,000 and $40,000 per year. The University also will cover the cost of benefits, a vehicle and a computer.

At the suggestion of U.Va.’s Student Council, the University also has established an Off-Grounds Housing Office to advise students on issues pertaining to life off Grounds, including leases, roommates and personal safety.

Vickie Hawes, director of the office, estimates that 6,500 undergraduates — about 55 percent of the student body — live off Grounds.
Contacts: Carol Wood, University of Virginia, (434) 924-6189, cwood@virginia.edu or Maurice Jones, City of Charlottesville, (434) 970-3116, jonesm@charlottesville.org

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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