Every Richmond resident deserves a clean, safe, and affordable place to call home. Unfortunately, even before coronavirus, housing costs were too high for many seniors and working families. Richmond also has the second-highest eviction rate in the country. The displacement of families is accelerating because of the pandemic. Housing is a human right. We need to tackle this head on.
Decisions to redline the city during the Jim Crow era have created economic barriers that not only led to the higher rates of eviction we see today, but also created hurdles in home ownership. According to RVA Eviction Lab, the racialized nature of how Richmond was designed has negatively impacted generations of Black and brown residents.
Richmond must reconcile with the destruction that has taken place in many of our neighborhoods due to discriminatory practices. The result has been continued decline, crime, underperforming schools, inadequate infrastructure and practically nonexistent public and private investment. Where you live in the city dictates your life expectancy.
We are losing residents to surrounding counties because of unaffordable housing, a lack of entry-level homes and services families need to stay in Richmond. Too many families are also trapped in a cycle of economic insecurity when an unexpected crisis leads to losing work and shelter. We need to address the growing population of unhoused people and transition families into full-time, reliable housing.
Without a long-term equity plan, the city will become more income restricted by design.
Housing is a comprehensive issue that intersects with the quality of life for Richmonders. It does not matter if you are a renter, homeowner or unhoused, you are a valued member of the city. We all make up the character of Richmond, and it is my responsibility as mayor to listen to how you want your neighborhoods to grow. As mayor, I will:
Work to fully fund Richmond’s eviction diversion program: This program is key to helping keep our city’s most vulnerable residents off the streets and ensuring landlords receive rent owed, especially in these trying times. My administration will seek to fully fund the eviction diversion program and work with trusted community partners to communicate the program to diverse communities. Re-zone the city: Currently, multi-family housing is banned in roughly two-thirds of the city. As mayor, my administration would work with city council to lift redline-era restrictions and push for equitable, community-driven development.
Fix Richmond’s broken permit process: All too often, residential developers and property owners face significant delays in completing a new build or renovations because of an inefficient permit process at City Hall. This is an equity issue because individuals and businesses with access to resources and power are more likely to suffer through the process. As mayor, I will work with the Planning and Development Review Office to create a user-friendly permit application process.
Double-down on the efforts of the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust: The city used to pass on all abandoned and blighted properties to the land trust for free so the trust could refurbish and add to Richmond’s permanent affordable housing stock. In recent years, the city has chosen to auction off such properties to make money quickly instead of investing in the city’s long-term affordability. I will engage housing and land trust nonprofit organizations in purchasing soon-to-be abandoned/abandoned properties from family estates, along with other vacant parcels in the area, for the construction of affordable infill single-family home development in these neighborhoods.
Reassess current tax abatement programs: Our city’s tax abatement system hasn’t been updated for decades. Currently, it favors those who are renovating million-dollar properties along Monument Avenue more than it does working-class Richmonders. I will reform this system to ensure abatements don’t just go to the wealthy. Any reassessment needs to be done through an equity lens in order to ensure Black and brown families are able to maintain legacy homes.
Build trust with public housing residents: The city needs to lay out a framework for resident-driven redevelopment of our public housing. The status quo of decades-long divestment and negligent mismanagement have left entire communities isolated and ignored by city leaders. Under my administration, I would seek to empower RRHA residents to chart a new future of expanded opportunities for their communities.
Explore a Property Tax Protection to support long-term homeowners over age 60: To support our seniors living in high-growth areas with increasing property taxes, we should find ways to keep them in their home. One option is to eliminate property tax payments for long-term existing homeowners if they’ve owned their home or have been paying off a mortgage longer than 20 years and are over the age of 60. My administration will explore providing this relief as a way to reduce gentrification and protect neighborhoods from predatory house flippers and developers.
Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Alexsis Rodgers Copyright 2020