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The future of public housing in Richmond

04/23/2014 11:05 AM by

More than 100 people turned out for the 3rd in a series of public meetings on the North Church Hill revitalization project at Woodville Elementary School last night, with at least 1/4 of those in attendance residents of the area public housing.

While the Pear Street and Dock Street projects have grabbed plenty of attention, the North Church Hill revitalization effort is somehow seemingly coming in under the radar. This is something of a surprise, as this project will have the larger long-term impact on the East End. A success with Creighton Court will be the blueprint for re-thinking all of the city’s public housing.

The plan at its core is to redevelop the Creighton Court public housing community as a mixed-income community, with the broad goals of seeing improvement in schools, safety in the community, resident health, and economic development.

The 504 units of Creighton will be replaced with 1200 mixed-income units. At least 900 of the replacement units will be in the East End (within the orange boundaries on the map below). Construction is tentatively slated to begin in late 2015.

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A recurring note struck by almost every speaker last night was the need for residents of the public housing communities to take their part in the planning process. Mayor Jones described the need ensure that “the future is not something that is done to you, but with you and for you.”

The Community Builders’ Rob Fossi described the 4 key principles of what he stressed had to be a “resident-driven initiative” as:

  • 1-for-1 replacement of existing public housing units
  • build first
  • true mixed income community
  • right to return

There was some back-and-forth at one point between residents in the audience and RRHA representatives concerning the 1-for-1 replacement and the right of return. The replacement guarantees that each of Creighton’s 504 public housing units will be replaced with another public housing unit with the exact same criteria for residency.

The right of current residents to return to the community comes with caveats. “Non-lease compliant residents” will have to be in good standing to have the opportunity to move back The RRHA’s Adriene Goolsby said that they are starting now, “eighteen months, two years out to get residents compliant.”

There are 2 information sessions scheduled for next week local residents. The first will be held Monday April 28th 5-6 PM at Anna Julia Copper School at 2124 North 29th Street; the second will be Thursday May 1, also 5-6 PM, at Peter Paul Development Center at 1708 North 22nd Street.

Photo: Creighton Court (1953) via Adolph B. Rice Studio at the Library of Virginia


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