Stoney Administration Releases Affordable Housing Plans
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration presented plans to City Council Monday night on increasing access to affordable housing.
The 2020 Biennial Real Estate Plan includes a proposal to get rid of more than 132 acres of city-owned property. Under the plan, more than 50 acres would go to the Maggie L. Walker Land Trust and other non profits to develop homes and apartments for low-income residents. Another 83 acres of high-value city-owned land would go up for bid by developers.
Stoney said at a press conference Monday morning that the proceeds from the competitive bid process could provide much needed funding for the city’s long-term projects.
“We cannot expect that the federal government will continue to pour dollars through this most critical time into our coffers,” he said. “I believe the real estate that the city owns can act as that stimulus.”
Many of the properties that will be offered up to for-profit developers are along Hermitage Road, just north of Scott’s Addition and downtown. Stoney said the city will be looking for developers willing to include some affordable housing in their projects.
The Stoney administration also presented City Council members with a draft plan for creating 10,000 affordable housing units by 2030, dubbed “An Equitable Affordable Housing Plan.” Included in the plan is an ordinance, introduced Monday night, to provide a dedicated revenue stream to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund from expiring tax credits. The administration estimates it could bring in $2 million annually to provide subsidies for affordable housing developers.
City Council Member Ellen Robertson praised the work of city officials in putting together a plan that addresses affordable housing needs.
“The diversity of opportunities that you are suggesting in the surplusing of land not only addresses opportunities for more rental housing that is affordable, but also addresses opportunities for home ownership, which we very well know that is the most sustainable, assured way that many of our low-income families have equity,” Robertson said.
Not all reactions to the Stoney administration’s housing plans were as glowing. Mayoral candidate Alexsis Rodgers had included similar proposals in her campaign platform, too.
And while Rodgers said she appreciated Stoney’s recent commitments to affordable housing and equitable transit, she questioned whether any of it would have happened had she not challenged Stoney.
“A political campaign should not be the only motivation for the mayor to do his job,” Rodgers said in a statement. “Richmond should not re-elect someone who lacks the vision and willingness to work with the community to move us forward.”
According to the Partnership for Housing Affordability, nearly half of all Richmond residents are cost-burdened, spending more than 30 percent of their income just on housing. Richmond, where the poverty rate is 22 percent, has the most housing cost-burdened residents in the region.
In addition to identifying new revenue for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Stoney’s equitable housing plan also includes long-term policy goals like creating an anti-displacement grant program for people being priced out of their homes due to rising property taxes and partnering with nonprofits to redevelop the city’s mobile home parks as affordable multi-family housing.
Both plans, and any future policy proposals, will need to be approved by Richmond City Council.