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Americorps VISTA Spotlight: Davy Sell – Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

VHA is pleased to introduce another member of our 2023-2024 VISTA cohort, Davy Sell, who is working with The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission in Charlottesville, Virginia, as its Regional Affordable Housing VISTA.

About Davy

Davy Sell (she/her) received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Psychology and a business certificate from the McIntire Business Institute in 2016. After graduating she worked in residential mortgage lending with a focus on first time homebuyer specialty programs and grant opportunities for 5 years and supported over 300 families in accessing housing. She has now pivoted her career focus towards a more data-driven role to support affordable housing initiatives and policy. 

She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Data Analytics & Policy with a concentration in Geospatial Analysis at Johns Hopkins University to develop her ability to identify where there is a housing-based need in a locality, assist in implementing the solutions for that need and prepare analyses and evaluations of program outcomes.

Current Project

Davy has spent this year working with the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership (CVRHP) and TJPDC staff to develop several projects to enhance communication and support affordable housing initiatives in the region. One of the primary projects Davy is focused on is the implementation of a comprehensive communication strategy for CVRHP. This strategy includes restructuring the monthly newsletter to better highlight relevant news and updates, as well as establishing a blog called “The Regional Review” dedicated to housing topics. Recent highlights featured on the blog include strategies for finding buyers for affordable housing, a recap of housing legislation in the General Assembly guest authored by VHA, and details about the Virginia Poverty Law Center’s new eviction defense center.

In addition to the communication strategy, Davy has also taken the lead in creating a toolkit for affordable housing. This toolkit aims to standardize definitions, conduct research on existing strategies, and showcase case studies of successful implementation. A significant achievement this year is the development of the CVRHP Affordable Housing Policy Matrix. This comprehensive matrix provides a detailed breakdown of policies, strategies, and implementations across the six localities within CVRHP. The policy topics covered include developer incentives, displacement prevention, and zoning. This collaborative effort involved consultation with planners from each locality to ensure accuracy and relevance.

These projects are poised to significantly impact the organization and the broader community by enhancing information dissemination, fostering collaboration, and providing valuable resources to support affordable housing efforts. For those interested in discussing these initiatives further or exploring potential collaborations, please contact Davy at dsell@tjpdc.org.

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