Web Extra: Cost of Living

Development in Manchester and Blackwell highlights Richmond's need for more affordable housing

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Keeping Blackwell affordable is critical

Rising rent and housing costs are a serious problem in Richmond, and the loss of affordable housing near downtown is pushing working families to the margins of the region, where fewer services and opportunities exist.

When we moved to Blackwell, we did so specifically because we wanted to live in an affordable community close to downtown that did not seem to be at risk of becoming unaffordable. Now, a coordinated redevelopment effort by a single company is threatening that affordability, and the proposed Blackwell historic district is part of the plan to get public dollars (tax credits) to finance that redevelopment effort. In the name of preserving the history and structures of a historically working-class Black neighborhood, the proposed historic district would likely undermine the ability of the current working-class Black residents to remain in Blackwell. Therefore, we oppose the proposed historic district and hope others would do so as well.

The enabling of coordinated redevelopment via a historic district and the resulting tax credits would be only the latest in a long history of public policy choices that have harmed the residents of Blackwell in the name of urban renewal. This history includes the destruction of single-family homes to build public housing in the 1960s, the failure to maintain that housing, then the destruction of public housing in the 1990s and displacement of low-income residents to less central parts of the city.

Ted Heck and Laura Goren more than 2 years ago

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