many paying more than half their monthly income in rent. This goes a long way toward explaining why the city’s Black population, now around 18 percent, has been steadily shrinking.

“Black people are being displaced,” said Valerie Washington, 28, who grew up in town but now lives out in the surrounding Albemarle County. As young white professionals and house-flippers have snapped up properties, few of the Black neighbors she knew as a child are left in her old neighborhood. “I’m there all the time,” she said. “But I can’t afford to live there.”

In March, the city endorsed a plan that includes $10 million for housing assistance each year as well as protections for a renters, along with a rewrite of the zoning ordinance to allow much more multifamily housing to be built, with some portion of new developments required to include affordable units. The zoning rewrite, officials argued, would release pressure from the pricey and competitive housing market while also breaking up the legacy of the city’s exclusionary past.

Roughly half of the hundreds of people who emailed the city about the latest draft of the map expressed support for the plan, and virtually no one is publicly questioning its ultimate goals.

“If we have to ruin half of our block for racial justice, yes, we’ll go for that,” said Leeyanne Moore, a creative writing instructor who lives on a street of small stucco bungalows. But she contends that the proposal would result only in a lot of expensive apartments for University of Virginia students. “Rezoning would not solve the problem,” she said.

Her neighbor, Diane Miller, also has reservations. She has not joined in the public debates, which tend to be dominated by the opinions, pro and con, of white professionals and academics. “My opinions don’t mean nothing,” said Ms. Miller, who is Black.

But she remembers, as a young girl, hearing her parents talk about a developer who was buying out all the neighbors, most if not all of them Black. She did not know whether their property was taken by eminent domain; all she remembers is that everyone left reluctantly, including her family, which left behind a house that had belonged to her grandmother.

Ms. Miller distrusts any top-down plans to address racial inequities; after all, those inequities came from the top in the first place.

“They took everything that Black people own, everything,” said Ms. Miller, now 65. “Ain’t no trust there.”

Carmelita Wood knows a lot about that history herself. She was raised in Vinegar Hill, a bustling neighborhood of homes and Black-owned businesses that was razed to the ground in the 1960s in the name of “urban renewal.” The idea that any policy could make amends for that does not pass muster with her. “Most of those people are dead and gone,” she said. “And their kids have moved away.”

But while history runs deep and its tragedies are irreversible, Ms. Wood suggested that it was not too late to start doing the right thing. She is now the president of the neighborhood association in Fifeville, a part of town that is majority Black, but by a steadily dwindling margin. In letters and op-eds, she has made the case that the vision in the proposed land use map, of neighborhoods around the city opening up to all kinds of different people, was a good first step.

“I think it will work,” Ms. Wood said. “I think it’ll work because folks will finally see that if we speak up, then maybe they will listen to us.”

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