RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Councilmember Stephanie Lynch laid heavy criticism at the feet of city administration this week over what she said was a slow and inadequate response to a mounting housing crisis.
“We don’t have time for brick and mortar units to go up. We needed them yesterday, and we don’t have time for that,” Lynch said. “We need subsidies to help people get into apartments now!”
Lynch’s statement came during her address to the Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities (RISC) meeting on Tuesday night, during which faith leaders called on the city to take drastic action on affordable housing and repairs for those living in decaying mobile homes.
RISC, a coalition of churches and synagogues in Richmond, has been critical of Mayor Levar Stoney on housing and gun violence issues.
In 2020, they advocated for a dedicated funding source for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. That ordinance was ultimately passed, and the group marked another victory this year when the city council agreed to set aside $300,000 for an emergency repair program for mobile homes in the city, many of which are in dangerous conditions.
Timely Repairs, Untimely Funding
While that $300,000 was written into the city’s budget this year, advocates say the funding is nowhere to be seen — and with cold weather coming on, there’s no time to delay.
“We have people that are on the eviction docket this month, that we can’t get family crisis relief funding for,” Lynch said. “We have people living in mobile homes that need repairs, we can’t get that out.”
Mayor Levar Stoney’s Press Secretary told 8News that the Department of Housing and Community Development has already written up a plan for the program, but that it’s still in the planning process.
“HCD has submitted a proposed plan of action that takes into account a strategy for addressing the overall needs of all manufactured home parks within the City and their residents,” he said. “The plan is under review.”
The city also missed a self-imposed deadline to open a permanent shelter this year, a fact that Lynch said was simply unacceptable.
“As we talk to people who don’t have a place to go tonight, who are sleeping in their cars, who have babies in their cars,” she said. “We do not have a shelter to send them to, because even though Winter comes the same time every year, the city has not planned or met their moral obligation.”
Meanwhile, the residents of the mobile homes hoping for city funding to make much-needed repairs are still waiting.
“The water comes in, the mold grows, the kids get sick,” said Paulina Chavez. “I want to make sure that the money that was promised is given.”