RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mayor Levar Stoney presented the draft of Richmond’s American Rescue Plan spending plan to the City Council on Monday.
This plan is for about $155 million in federal funding the city will receive.
The city got feedback from citizens, with nearly 2,000 people responding to its survey. At the mayor’s weekly briefing last Thursday, Peter Briel, director of citizen services and product manager, said across all surveyees, supporting children and families was a top priority.
Because of this, the draft spending plan would use $80 million to help children and families, with $2 million going to childcare and $78 million to parks and community centers.
Stoney said the city would work on transforming its community centers to opportunity centers. They will not only provide recreation activities but also to provide resources to community members. He said they had seen across the country some communities use their centers as almost mini city halls.
“Neighborhood hubs that can provide assistance and access to financial and housing assistance and benefits, senior services, food access, healthcare, wellness education, youth programming and workforce development training,” Stoney said. “Our goal is to meet our residents where they are — in their neighborhoods.”
Some of the community centers include TB Smith Community Center, Southside Community Center, Calhoun Center and a new center on the current site of Lucks Field.
The plan Stoney presented the City Council would use $5 million to establish a Health Equity fund that would be managed by the Richmond City Health District through an MOU with the city. Stoney said this fund would help with public health efforts such as the ongoing COVID-19 response, maternal and infant health, mental health, food access and underlying health conditions.
“We know that an individual’s and a family’s access to food, mental health services, and preventative services has a massive impact on their health… we’ve seen this play out during the pandemic, but this is not unique COVID-19,” said Jackie Lawrence, Director of Health Equity for the Richmond City Health District. “A financial investment for public health services that is inclusive of those that address the social determinants of health will have long lasting benefits to our community.”
Stoney said this fund is built on the $4 million grant the city received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve health literacy and address health disparities among Black and Latino communities.
The drafted plan allotted $32 million to build affording and healthy homes. Of this money, $20 million would go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $6.8 million to Creighton Court redevelopment Phase I and $5.5 million to Highlight Grove Redevelopment Phase I.
“These investments in housing of all types, from renters to homeowners, is how we build back more affordable healthy homes and how we ensure residents stay in homes,” the mayor said.
Stoney said while none of this money is going towards rent assistance, the city is still working closely with the commonwealth on providing rental relief to residents.
$23.3 million would go towards “Building Back Greener and More Resilient.” This includes addressing stormwater draining issues, performing a climate risk assessment risk for the city and helping homeowners replace certain service pipes that connect to homes.
The city would use $8.5 million for safety, such as gun violence prevention, first responder hazard pay and enhanced street lighting and cameras.
Finally, $5.9 million would be used to help with what the drafted plan calls “Building Back Stronger.” That includes $1 million for small business grant application support and outreach; $2 million for city beautification; $1.5 million for Office of Community wealth-building Workforce Development and Community Ambassadors; and $1.4 million to COVID-19 Administrative Response Reserve, which will help government operations.
Community members will be able to give feedback on the draft starting Sept. 14. There will be opportunities for citizens to provide their feedback in-person and digitally. You can find more detail about that, and the full drafted plan, online here.