RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Local leaders are working to address what they are calling a housing crisis with $14 million in federal funding. However, one Richmond advocacy group is concerned that may not be enough.
Inside a packed Richmond City Council meeting on Monday, March 27, many attendees held up signs reading “Fund Our City.”
Ralph Hodge with “Richmonders Involved in Strengthening our Communities,” commonly known as “RISC,” along with others from the organization spoke up on Mayor Levar Stoney’s new plan to address affordable housing.
Stoney’s proposed budget this year includes $50 million over five years for affordable housing. This is a shift from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which provided a dedicated multi-million dollar stream of funding every year. This fund was established in 2020.
RISC says by law, the city must provide this promised funding.
“Honor the promises that you made and quadruple the investment, not debt, but the investment in affordable housing to the tune of 100-plus million dollars,” Hodge said on Monday evening.
RISC has been bringing the potential housing crisis to the attention of city leaders for more than a decade.
“Back then we were 10,000 units in need,” Hodge said.
Right now, Richmond has at least a 23,000 unit shortage, according to Stoney. The mayor also said on Monday that more Richmonders are facing evictions and spending more than 30% of their paychecks on housing costs.
In the last 14 years, RISC leaders say the housing problem has turned into a housing emergency, leading to what they are now calling an “eviction apocalypse.”
“People are struggling, I don’t know if the average person is understanding and grasping the idea that we are seeing more homeless people than ever before,” Hodge said. “We are seeing children at hotels, buses pulling up to hotels to pick up children. We are seeing, I mean we are in a crisis, this is an emergency.”
Whatever the city decides, the $14 million federal investment Stoney accepted from Senator Mark Warner on Monday will help. Stoney says the $14 million given to the Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority to will build 1,000 units every year until 2030.
More information on Stoney’s budget proposal is expected at the next Richmond City Council meeting.
On Tuesday, March 28, nearly 1,500 RISC members are expected to gather with the plan to address city leaders on key issues, including affordable housing and gun violence.