Good morning, RVA! It's 42 °F, and today we’ve got highs in the mid 50s and some rain possible this morning. Meh weather now but should be great by this end of this week!
Over the weekend, the New York Times’s Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui published a data-driven piece looking at eviction across America, but specifically in Richmond where the eviction judgment rates are among the highest in the nation. While Virginia’s independent city situation always makes me skeptical of per capital comparisons (five of the top ten cities with the highest rate of eviction judgments are in Virginia), this remains shocking: “...one in five renter households in Richmond were threatened with eviction in 2016.” For a dollar amount of usually less than $700, lives are upended with lost time at work, unstable housing, and mounting legal fees. And, of course, the problems that lead to eviction are complicated and multivariate. Badger’s follow-up thread on Twitter is worth reading in its entirety, but this tweet cuts to the heart of it: “This problem of eviction is about so much more than a conflict between a landlord and tenant. It's about segregation, poor housing stock, suburbs that refuse regional transit, states that refuse Medicaid, historic inequity, baffling court systems.”
While the entire region needs to simultaneously attack problems of which a stunning eviction rate is a symptom, we can fix one tiny issue immediately: Install lockers in the John Marshall Courts Building. The above linked NYT story opens with, “No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. ‘Put it in your car,’ the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.” This scene, that appeared in the dang New York Times, should embarrass our local leaders. Please, install some lockers in the courts building. Norfolk does it, we can too.
City Council will enter their fifth budget work session today at 9:00 AM. On the docket for presentations: Assessor of Real Estate, Finance/Risk Management, Human Resources, Procurement, and Non-departmental (that’s stuff like nonprofits and GRTC). As always, I’ll get it posted to The Boring Show podcast as soon as I can.
From the RTD editorial board comes this piece that ostensibly praises Democrats for creating a school safety and gun violence task force. Ultimately the piece warns agains “using the task force as just one more platform to launch partisan attacks,” which I interpret as “try to pass gun violence legislation.” They go on to suggest we not get too distracted on school safety because the number of kids who die in school shootings compares favorably to, say, the number of kids who die riding their bikes to school or who die in traffic crashes. How about running these numbers when talking about “the firearm threat” instead: 2,555 children and teens die from gun violence every year, while 14,600 children and teens are shot and survive.
Style Weekly says local chef and restaurant owner Brittanny Anderson will show up on an episode of Iron Chef later this year. If you’d like to learn more about Chef Anderson, listen to her episode of the Two People Podcast (which I kind of think about a lot!).
A quick logistical note: A couple days ago I launched a Good Morning, RVA Slack (aka a chatroom) for all patrons (aka anyone giving any amount through my Patreon page). I was inspired by journalism professor Jay Rosen’s idea of getting readers to join and participate in the creation of news and am excited to see where it goes. You can read some more of my thoughts over on my Patreon page.
- Squirrels split the series with Trenton and opens a new one with the Hartford Yard Goats tonight at 7:05 PM
- Kickers took the New York Red Bulls II to a 1-1 draw.
- Nats went 0-3 in the series against the Mets and start a new series with the Braves tonight at 7:05 PM.
This morning's longread
From Patron John, here’s this piece about a new ProPublica project to investigate the ongoing push to privatize public housing in small- and medium-sized towns. It is, as he says, “another plot point on the RVA public housing challenges map.”
The federal housing agency is charged with regularly inspecting complexes and reviewing housing authorities’ finances. For years, HUD gave the county housing authority high marks. From the time HUD began documenting concerns in 2010, it took seven years before officials announced a plan to address residents’ living conditions. That plan: to ask nearly a fifth of Cairo’s citizens, and a fourth of Thebes’, to relocate. HUD has admitted that government agencies at all levels, itself included, contributed to the current-day Alexander County housing crisis. But HUD — the chief overseer — has been painstakingly slow to offer a detailed explanation of what led to its mistakes, and what has been done to prevent them in the future. Many here feel the agency’s response, though costly, is not proportionate to the agony those mistakes have caused.
If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.