City's poor need help

I am a social worker, concerned citizen, and musician who grew up in this city. I am concerned about what appears to be the over-development and the gentrification of my city.

One number mentioned in your cover story ["Nickel + Dimed," March 11] was the 26 percent poverty rate in our city. I have been shouting that number for years now. Now, will that rate improve with gentrification? Yes, it will– when the poor move out of town. Just look around and see what neighborhoods are being developed.

The Hook dismissed this number too quickly. Look at the data tables at There are many reasons for poverty rates, not just students. Many cities have universities and off-campus housing, such as Boston and Eugene, Oregon, but they don't have the same kind of poverty rate as Charlottesville.

I would love to invite a group of developers around town to do my job with me. We could go see the homeless folks and ask them why they can't find a home even though they might have benefits. We could go talk to the parents of the disabled, whose children still live with them as they have nowhere else to go. We can go look at the shelters and see all of their limitations. We could go ask the children of today and they would tell us how bad drugs are in Charlottesville. As the saying always has been, "Charlottesville eats its young."

Charlottesville, my concern is that there are plenty of people moving here, developing, and making this town look pretty, but are we working harder in this community to help everyone live here?

We have marketed this city as "one of the best cities in America." But is it really? Will it stay that way when it becomes one big slab?

Charlottesville, this is a facade, like pancake makeup to cover scars. We can get a group of people together to do Live Arts, asking people to pay $1 when they eat, but we don't do it in order to build shelters or offer better care to our sick, addicted, and disabled. We can have one of the lowest employment rates in Virginia, but we only offer jobs that pay menial wages.

I believe people mean well, but what you think looks attractive is not always what is best for the people. Solutions happen if we all look a little harder.

DJ ROB A aka Rob Hull