Blacksburg Town leaders focus on ‘housing emergency’

‘Nationwide, we have a housing shortage, but in Blacksburg, I believe, we have a housing emergency’

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Housing has been a major topic of conversation for Blacksburg town leaders as Virginia Tech continues to grow each year.

“It’s exasperated by the unmitigated growth of Virginia Tech,” said Liam Watson, newest council member for the Town of Blacksburg. “It’s a growth we, the town of Blacksburg, cannot plan for because Virginia Tech does not regularly, and clearly, communicate that with us.”

Town leaders said the continuous growth of the university is making affordable housing difficult for permanent residents.

“We’ve kind of helped meet the student housing, there will probably be some things that come up along the way, but we’re really focused now with other types of housing within the community,” said Michael Sutphin, vice mayor of Blacksburg.

Sutphin said it’s about trying to find the balance between preserving the town and adjusting to the growth.

“How do you strike the balance between keeping the character of your community and accommodating the different kinds of issues that come with being a part of a college town?” said Sutphin. “One of those, especially for Virginia Tech, has been the growth of the university and the growth of the student population.”

Watson said getting affordable housing in the area will be a total group effort.

“The solution isn’t just a Blacksburg solution, it is a New River Valley solution,” Watson said.

Currently, there are a few programs in the area working to bring affordable housing here.

Town officials also said they are looking at other college towns and their plans.

10 News reached out to officials at Virginia Tech for comment and they said housing affordability and availability is one of their top priorities.

They said in the past two years they have opened two new residence halls along with more plans for the future.

About the Author

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.