Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Monday, October 29, 2012
SAVE THE DATE, November 1, 2012
Contact: Lillie A. Estes: 804.476.0756
“One City, One Community” Eliminating Poverty, Protecting Community
RePHRAME to Hold 5th Annual Community Forum on November 1, 2012
On Thursday, November 1, 2012, at 5:30 PM, RePHRAME will sponsor its 5th Annual Community Forum highlighting the concerns of public housing residents in Richmond. The event will be held at Good Shepherd Baptist Church, 1127 N. 28th Street, Richmond, VA 23223 in the Fellowship Hall. Dinner will be provided and children are welcome.
A plan is underway to redevelop the 950 public housing units in the East End of the city. A significant number of housing units presently occupied by very low-income families will be lost. This forum will focus on the historical decisions that created the present concentration of poverty in the East End of Richmond as presented in Unpacking the 2010 Census. Equipped with the real story of the past, public housing residents and their advocates will be positioned to engage effectively in the dialogue and decisions about the redevelopment of Creighton and Whitcomb courts.
RePHRAME and its partner groups work to engage local residents in creating their own vision of building thriving and inclusive communities. Come and learn about policies & procedures that affect our community and add your voice to a community-led process for positive change.
RePHRAME is an alliance of public housing residents, advocates, allies, and community groups. The organization formed in 2008 to make sure public housing residents & housing advocates in Richmond have a voice in their communities.
Good Shepherd Baptist Church is located on GRTC Route 45 Jefferson. The bus stop is at the corner of 28th & R Streets.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
By: ROBERT ZULLO | Richmond Times-Dispatch Published: May 10, 2012 Updated: May 10, 2012 - 12:00 AM RICHMOND, Va. -- When Doreen Hill left Mosby Court for one of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority's "scattered site" homes more than 20 years ago, she felt she was taking a step forward. After five years in the East End housing project, she had finished a family self-sufficiency program, had a job with Interbake Foods and was moving into a new home on Kansas Avenue, near Maymont Park. Hill, 56, was among nearly 50 people, mostly elderly women, who showed up at a community meeting Wednesday night on the future of the authority's 121 scattered site homes, which the housing authority has contemplated selling. Hill and others who spoke at the meeting worried about having to go back to one of the city's housing projects if their homes are sold. "To me, that's moving backward," Hill said. "Before I did that, I'd leave RRHA altogether." New RRHA Chief Executive Officer Adrienne Goolsby, a former Chicago public official who has been on the job about two weeks, stressed to the crowd that no decision had been made regarding the homes. "I want to make sure that we create a plan that's holistic with the community and that this plan is not just dictated by RRHA," she after the meeting. She added that staff are evaluating all the homes, including the nearly half that are vacant. "This will not be a blanket-type approach," Goolsby told the crowd. "That's one thing I can guarantee." The initial plan to sell the homes dates to 2005, when the housing authority decided the scattered site properties had become too costly to operate and maintain. The authority began renovating homes to sell to residents or other low-income buyers, though only 11 had sold by this year, when the authority floated the idea of selling the homes "as is." That move prompted bitter opposition from residents. " 'As is' was never mentioned years ago about buying your house," said Charlene Harris, 65, who lives on Colorado Avenue. "I just retired. When am I even going to get money to buy my house as is, when it needs so many repairs that should have been done years ago?" Others at the meeting criticized the management of the housing authority for broken promises regarding purchasing their homes, letting houses deteriorate, shoddy workmanship, failing to respond to maintenance requests and intimidating residents. James Kevin Harris, Charlene Harris' son, told Goolsby she should start with housing authority staff. "They're scaring ladies into not complaining about things that's wrong with their houses because they might have been late on their rent and they got a fee they've got to pay," he said. "It's just really like fear-mongering. That's how I see it." At meetings, housing authority managers "speak to these people like they're children," Harris added. "They don't give them any respect," he said. "They don't know anything when you're trying to get an answer. And they need to be held accountable." Goolsby said she would follow up on complaints. "I need to meet with staff to get a better sense of how we operate," she said. Deborah Willis, 47, lives in the South Lombardy Street house her mother rented from 1974 until she died and wants to stay there. "Nobody's shooting, nobody's bothering me. All the neighbors are close," she said. "It's wonderful." Willis, who has cancer, lupus and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pays $198 a month in rent and is on a fixed income. "If I fall out, I know my neighbors are there," she said. "The neighborhood is beautiful. I just don't want to leave." City Councilman E. Martin Jewell, whose 5th District includes many of the properties, welcomed Goolsby to Richmond, saying at the meeting that she "seems to come with a bright, fresh spirit." Jewell said plans to sell the homes "in this god-awful way is total disregard for dignity and respect," and added that residents have been given mixed messages from the housing authority as to how and when they'd be able to purchase the homes. "The homes have been paid for ages ago," he said. "There are all sorts of alternatives we could consider." firstname.lastname@example.org (804) 649-6911
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
RICHMOND, Va. --
The mulched and manicured front yard of Wanda Jones features gardenias, pansies and rose bushes. The inside of her rental property, on Colorado Avenue in the Randolph neighborhood of Richmond, glows with a similar pride.
"I love my yard. I do my own painting," said Jones, a Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority tenant who has lived in the tidy brick dwelling for 20 years. "I fix up this house like it's my house, because it's my home ." For how long remains to be seen.
Jones is among the RRHA tenants who would be displaced by an RRHA plan to sell more than 120 public-housing dwellings, half of which are occupied.
"No final decision has been made at this time," said RRHA spokeswoman Osita Iroegbu. "The RRHA Board of Commissioners and RRHA staff continue to review and assess the strategic direction of the scattered-site properties."
Next door to Jones, in the yard of RRHA tenant Charlene Harris, hot dogs and hamburgers sizzled on the grill during a "teach-in" and cookout held Friday by Residents of Public Housing in Richmond Against Mass Evictions (RePHRAME). Speakers spent much of the evening raking the housing authority over the coals.
Jones said residents were offered an RRHA apartment in Whitcomb Court, Creighton Court or Fulton, then vouchers for those who qualified. Neither option appeals to her.
"I love the neighborhood. Wouldn't change it for nothing. It's so peaceful. And to go back in a development, I'm devastated. … I don't want to go backwards."
If RRHA sells off its scattered housing, it would take Richmond backward.
Most of the affected homes are in Randolph, an uncommonly diverse community by Richmond-area standards. The housing stock runs the gamut from public housing to homes valued above $200,000. Retirees, professionals, public-housing residents and college students share the neighborhood.
Dispersing poverty is a stated goal of Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. Indeed, concentrated poverty makes every task more difficult, from educating children to reducing crime to abating poverty itself. But you don't have to be a policy wonk to see that the displacement of vulnerable families in this economy contradicts the mission of any housing agency.
Housing authority officials, citing diminishing funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, say they cannot afford to maintain and repair scattered sites. Such talk breeds cynicism among public-housing residents and affordable-housing advocates. How committed is Richmond to dispersing poverty, anyway?
Adrienne Goolsby, the new CEO of RRHA, is planning a community meeting next week with community members living in the scattered-site development "to continue the conversation with them surrounding the future of the scattered-site houses," Iroegbu said.
Goolsby would brighten the future of public housing in Richmond by abandoning the sell-off and rejecting the idea that the bottom line is an excuse for bad public policy.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Contact: Kenneth Yates @ firstname.lastname@example.org/
Cora Hayes @ email@example.com/
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org/
Residents of Public Housing Against Mass Eviction (RePHRAME) will hold a teach-in, press conference and cookout from 4pm to 7pm on Friday, April 27, 2012, at 1600 Colorado Avenue* in the Randolph neighborhood. The press conference will begin at 5:00PM. The location of the event is one of the homes that may be sold as part of a proposal by Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) that would further reduce its investment in affordable housing. Speakers will include Charlene Harris and Cora Hayes of RePHRAME, as well as Richmond City Council Member E. Martin Jewell.
RRHA indicated plans to request approval from HUD to sell 120 single-family homes that make up its “Scattered Site Small House Used House” program. Currently these homes provide decent, stable & affordable housing for some of Richmond’s most economically vulnerable residents. The purpose of the April 27th event is to educate the community about this plan, raise awareness, and fine-tune a strategy for additional civic engagement regarding other concerns held by residents of RRHA-operated housing.
Since 1999, RRHA has demolished a total of 500 public housing units in Blackwell and Dove Court. To date, not a single unit of public housing has been created to replace this lost housing. RRHA now wants to eliminate another 120 homes, leaving the residents with limited options. Despite its stated goal of “de-concentrating” poverty, RRHA plans to move residents out of these scattered-site homes and into larger, concentrated public housing communities such as Gilpin Court and Mosby Court. RePHRAME asks the question: "Why would you move people from scattered housing to concentrated housing if your goal is de-concentration?”
RePHRAME members are still concerned about the status of resident commissioner seats on the RRHA Board of Commissioners, as well as a new policy that requires background checks of all RRHA residents. “It should be a more collaborative process as mandated by HUD. It appears that RRHA views residents as part of the problem and not as a part of the solution,” says RePHRAME member Lillie A. Estes.
RePHRAME is a coalition of public housing residents and community-based organizations that works to ensure that the housing-related concerns of low-income Richmonders are addressed. RePHRAME wants RRHA to stop reducing its much-needed affordable housing stock resources, and start focusing on the concerns of its residents.
* - “RePHRAME Presents a May Day Teach-In & Neighborhood Cookout!” is located on GRTC Route #10- Riverview. The bus stop is at the corner of S. Lombardy Street & Colorado Avenue, right next to the cookout event.