Richmond set to declare affordable housing emergency
Richmond leaders are set to formally declare a housing crisis.
What’s happening: In a resolution before the Richmond City Council, officials pointed to an array of alarming statistics they said have only been getting worse.
- Rents have been shooting up.
- The number of evictions has surged, with more than half of all filings attributed to 15 large landlords.
- And a record 188 people were counted living without shelter this winter.
Why it matters: City leaders say they’re hoping that calling attention to the problem will bring more outside support.
- “Today we stand together to show some urgency on this issue,” Mayor Levar Stoney said during a press conference at City Hall last week. “We must send a message to our partners at the state and federal level.”
Stoney outlined a series of steps the city is undertaking to address the problem.
- That includes a pledge to help create 1,000 new affordable apartments each year for the next five years through a $50 million local grant program.
- He also noted the city’s work to rewrite zoning codes to allow denser development.
The intrigue: Stoney’s announcement comes after months of criticism by a large grassroots advocacy group that represents more than a dozen local church congregations.
- The group, Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities, has been pressing Stoney and City Council members over a pivot away from the city’s existing Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which they argue would provide more funding for the problem over the long term.
- They’ve also criticized Stoney for being slow to release money set aside to aid people living in dilapidated mobile home parks.
What they're saying: City Council President Mike Jones addressed criticism of the decision to move away from the housing trust fund at last week’s press conference, telling reporters.
- “There are going to be some other organizations who say we should do it the way we’ve always done it," Jones said. "We can’t. The need has changed.”
What’s next: A final vote on the housing resolution is scheduled for April 10.
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