RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mayor Levar Stoney announced a $10 million plan to provide 1000 more units of affordable housing in Richmond per year during his weekly press conference.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, housing is foundational,” Stoney said on Tuesday. “And affordable housing is fundamental to the health and success of our families. Not only as we recover from a pandemic, but as we equitably move our city forward.”

Stoney announced that on Monday night, an ordinance was introduced to the city council that represents the awarding of $10 million in American Rescue Plan grants to 17 prospective developers of affordable housing.

These 17 developers were chosen from a pool of 40 applications.

Close to $7 million of the proposed $10 million will go toward 812 new multi-family rental units.

About $500,000 will be used to build 30 new affordable homeownership units, while $1.25 million will be used to preserve 255 existing affordable residential units.

Another $1.3 million will go toward residential services ranging from aid to the homeless to counseling for prospective new homeowners.

“We are very proud today of the commitment that the mayor made to dedicate $10 million,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic and Community Development, Sharon Ebert. “And with these funds, every year we will meet our goal of either preserving or creating 1000 new units of affordable housing here in the city of Richmond.”

Continuing discussion on his equity agenda, Stoney then introduced the city’s plans for a new disparity study.

According to Stoney, the study intends to ensure that neglected communities be given a fair chance to “share equity in the prosperity and the upward trajectory of this great city.”

Stoney explained that the city has hired MGT, a public sector firm, to conduct a study determining whether or not a significant gap exists between the number of minority businesses that are qualified to perform and the number of minority businesses engaged in the city or its prime contractors.

“If a disparity is found to exist, MGT will offer analysis and recommendations on the best ways to remedy the inequities,” Stoney said. “But we need the input from our community and our stakeholders to make this process work.”

The first community meeting is scheduled for April 7, 2022. More information can be found here.

Other announcements

In the Q&A session, Stoney was asked about the city council’s recent rejection of the Richmond Public School Board’s construction plan for George Wythe High School.

“The outcome that I was hoping for was compromise,” Stoney said. “We all — city council, the administration, members of school board — want to build a new George Wythe High School. But the bodies all have different responsibilities.”

According to Stoney, the school board did not bring sufficient evidence to back up their claims that the proposed size of George Wythe was necessary.

Mayor Stoney also provided an update on Richmond’s COVID-19 data.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the city has seen 44,153 cases of COVID-19 since March 2020. And Richmond’s seven-day average of new daily cases is currently 18 — for comparison, the Mayor reported this time last month that it was at 45.

“I’d also like to remind everyone that your best protection from serious illness and hospitalization remains getting vaccinated and getting boosted,” Stoney said.

The mayor will head to the White House this afternoon for the signing of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching legislation.

“This is something that should have happened 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago,” Stoney said. “And so, to receive the invite from President Biden and the White House to witness this, you know, I might be overcome with tears when I see it enacted; once he adds his signature to it. But it is certainly a milestone for Black Americans in this country.”