Good morning, RVA! It's 74 °F, and it’s hot again today with highs in the mid 90s. There’s an OK chance for rain late this evening—nothing that’ll wash out your afternoon plans but something that could bring some relief to the heat.
Roberto Roldan at Virginia Public Media, which is now the name of our local public media...group? collection of stations? squad?...looks into the affordable housing component of the proposed North of Broad development. Here’s the deal: The developer will build 80 affordable units by 2022 and then “the developer expects to build another 200 in the next five to seven years. The developer will also need to help raise $10 million in private donations. That money would go to the nonprofit affordable housing developer Better Housing Coalition, which will build 200 affordable apartments elsewhere in downtown.” That’s how we get to the Mayor’s promised 480 affordable units.
Of course, as with all conversations about affordable housing, the word “affordable” does a lot of the lifting. Roldan says that, of those 480 units, 40% will go to folks who make 60% of the area median income, and 60% will go to folks making 80% of the area median income. That’s a majority of the affordable, income-restricted units reserved for people who make $46,000 per year. It’s not that I’m against building housing for people making moderate incomes like that—we, of course, need to build more housing for everyone. But I am unconvinced that a downtown arena and the required BigTIF is the only way to get more housing for those folks. @_SmithNicholas_ on Twitter even points out that the private market in Richmond is already building similarly affordable units on its own.
So here’s my take, and, remember, I am not a housing expert: If the City wants to subsidize affordable housing, which I believe it has the moral responsibility to do so, it should focus on housing for people making 30-50% of AMI—the stuff the private market won’t touch. Here are a couple quotes from a paper (PDF) by a real expert, local Kathryn Howell: “The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the Richmond region faces a shortage of 33,206 units available and affordable to households earning less than 30% of the AMI and a shortage of 28,626 units for those earning less than 50% of Area Median Income” and “We find that a robust housing preservation and production strategy must focus on housing for households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income to reduce rent burden and prevent future evictions.” We need a lot of units, way more than 80 or even 480, and we need them for folks making very, very little money. The City could and should come up with good policies to help with that—even a TIF! Portland, for example, has used TIFs to help build 2,200 affordable units over the course of a single decade. But if we’re going to dedicate a big chunk of our City’s future revenue to a big project like the proposed North of Broad development, we should make sure that it’s building the right kind of housing Richmond needs at the right affordability level.
Whoaaaa, Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says that eight candidate have qualified for the 5th District City Council special election: Nicholas Da Silva (btw, Style Weekly has a new profile up of Da Silva), Stephanie Lynch, Jer’Mykeal McCoy, Robin D. Mines, Chuck Richardson, Graham Sturm, Mamie Taylor, and Thad Williamson. That’s a lot of candidates, and, on an off-year election, the total number of votes needed to win this race is gonna be real, real small.
Justin Mattingly, also at the RTD, talked to a few RPS School Board members about what the District has planned for Carver Elementary 💸. The fallout of the SOL cheating scandal at Carver left test scores dramatically lower than its peer schools, and, in part because of the increase in schools funding found in the Mayor’s budget, RPS has the cash to deploy some school-specific resources to help kids get back on track. Budget season can be so, so boring, but it is so, so important!
Today, fall classes begin for VCU students. This is your reminder—in case you’ve somehow missed them moving in over the last week or so—that there are suddenly tens of thousands more humans living in Richmond. I think it’s wonderful; that part of town feels empty and dead when students are gone. It does mean, however, that should you choose to drive a vehicle through Monroe Ward or the Fan, please do so carefully as there are many, many more people getting around out there. VCU’s Monroe Park Campus is one of the most pedestrian-centric parts of town—it’s their space, and drivers should treat it as such!
Yet another reason to ban cars: “Driver defaces city’s first street mural doing donuts outside Richmond Triangle Players in Scott’s Addition.” I do not think that it is a coincidence that the mural the driver decided to deface is a rainbow painted in front of a theatre that focuses on LGBTQ-themed works.
This morning's longread
I really appreciated Cloudflare publicly discussing how their platform enabled White supremacist terrorism and what they are going to do about it moving forward. It’s a good example of humane corporate writing.
The mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are horrific tragedies. In the case of the El Paso shooting, the suspected terrorist gunman appears to have been inspired by the forum website known as 8chan. Based on evidence we've seen, it appears that he posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre. In a separate tragedy, the suspected killer in the Poway, California synagogue shooting also posted a hate-filled “open letter” on 8chan. 8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.
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