RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) says plans to establish its own security force are still on track.

In a December 2022 interview with 8News, RRHA’s CEO, Steven Nesmith, said he expected the proposed security force to begin protecting public housing communities in late February 2023. Three months later, RRHA told 8News that it is still working on the launch.

“Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority is on track with bringing back a security force for the safety and security of the families in our six public housing communities as well as for the senior sites that we oversee,” a spokesperson for the Authority said. “RRHA is in the midst of performing our due diligence with all necessary parties. There are a lot of moving parts and many community considerations to ensure that we are researching to ensure that we have covered all possible bases.”

The proposed security force is part of a bigger plan called the ‘Hope, Jobs and Security’ Package for the Big Six which will also offer job training and apprenticeship programs to residents of the community, the RRHA added.

Though the police force hasn’t launched yet, the proposed plan has staunch support from residents like Sparkle Taylor, who has lived in Gilpin Court with her family for seven years.

“This community has seen increased violence, increased gun violence in particular. This is the first time living out here that I have actually felt fear,” she said. “We need that security now.”

In December, Nesmith said the proposed security force would be a “resident-led community policing effort,” with an emphasis on communication between members of the force and residents of the following six communities:

  • Creighton Court
  • Fairfield Court
  • Gilpin Court
  • Hillside Court
  • Mosby Court
  • Whitcomb Court

Nesmith also said members of this proposed force will be armed and will have the authority to make arrests in coordination with the Richmond Police Department.

The announcement came came after a string of violent incidents — including the deadly shooting of 15-year-old Tynashia Humphrey in Gilpin Court in September 2022.

“This community out here in Gilpin has never been perfect. There’s always been some sort of violence. There’s always been some messed up things going on, but there’s a different texture to all of this,” Taylor said.

RRHA had its own police force until 2014, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled funding for housing authorities all across the country.

Nesmith said he found “alternative financing” to fund RRHA’s proposed security force, however, the Authority did not respond to 8News request for details.

RRHA said it is planning to make a formal announcement in mid-July.