RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney discussed the issues of homelessness and Richmond Public School’s drop out rate at his weekly presser on Wednesday.

Last week, the mayor discussed his equity agenda and asked Richmond residents to weigh in before it is introduced as a resolution before Richmond City Council. In relation to this, Stoney brought Reggie Gordon, Richmond’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, how the city’s Homelessness Advisory Council worked to help solve the issue.

He said the council was composed of a diverse group of community leaders, those who experienced homelessness and faith leaders spent a month doing in-depth research on the subject and what they could do to mitigate it in Richmond.

One member of the council was Ricky Martin, who experienced homelessness and started Fit ToGo, a program that gives free training to teach people how to become fitness trainers if they give free classes throughout the community. Martin said what he brought to the group is his perspective as someone who was in the homeless system.

The group ended up giving three main recommendations:

  • Create a community resource center,
  • Expand affordable housing options,
  • Highlight the role of the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care.

Stoney said he is putting the final touches on the budget proposal he will present to the City Council on Friday, and did not reveal how much he would ask to be allocated to the anti-homelessness efforts. The mayor said it’s been a hard year for Richmond due to the pandemic, and they need to make sure the necessities are funded as well.

During the presser, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Kamras also spoke about the school system’s drop out rates. He said at this point in the year, the projected drop out rate is down across the board. At George Wythe High School it went down by more than 25 percent and over 18 percent at Huguenot High School.

However, he said there’s still more work to do and “a single drop out is one to many.”

Stoney addressed the issue of the lack of vaccination distribution sites in Southside. He said the city needs to be strategic about how it distributes vaccines to the most vulnerable in the community and get them access to it. He said location isn’t the greatest issue, but about educating people why it is important to get the vaccine. The mayor is optimistic about getting more residents vaccinated with the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

You can watch the presser on Facebook live here.