1,000 Will Gather in Richmond for Affordable Housing On April 14

This is a guest post by Diane Atkins. Diane is the Minister for Human Concerns at the Church of the Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Richmond VA. She is an active member of Richmonders Involved in Strengthening our Communities (RISC).

Did you know that…

  • 46% of Richmond households pay 30 percent or more of their income for housing; according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is considered “unaffordable” if it costs more than 30 percent of a household’s income. This represents an increase of 10 percentage points between 2000 and 2009.
  • 22% of Richmond households pay more than 50% of their income for housing. This represents an increase of 9 percentage points between 2000 and 2009.
  • Of those households earning less than $20,000 annually, 80% of them pay more than 30% of their income for rent. These 13,000+ households are at risk of losing their homes after a financial crisis…perhaps a change in job hours, illness or car repairs. Many are forced to choose between groceries, school supplies, electricity or paying the rent.

Please join RISC (Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities) and more than 1000 people of faith at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 14th at Good Shepherd Baptist Church (28th and R streets in historic Church Hill), as we seek commitments for action from the Richmond City Council that ensure affordable housing for those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

An Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a funding mechanism that is being used in more than 700 places across the country to support the creation of affordable housing.  Because the Affordable Housing Trust Fund leverages more money (on average, at 6.5-to-1) for affordable housing through other sources of funding, relatively modest amounts of funding can lead to incredible results: For example, in Columbus, Ohio, a fund of about $5 million produced 827 new units of affordable housing in 2007 alone.

Richmond’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund was created in 2008 by the Richmond City Council. However:

  • The Oversight Board for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund was never fully appointed, and has never met.
  • No source of funding, or even a target dollar amount, has been identified.
  • Unlike many Affordable Housing Trust Funds across the county, there is no portion of the fund targeted specifically toward those most in need (i.e. those who earn between $0 to $20,000).

All nine members of Richmond City Council have committed to attend on April 14th and will be asked for specific commitments for action. Please join us as we work together to ensure systems in our community are held accountable to principles of justice and fairness.

RISC’s mission is to bring together diverse faith communities to powerfully address the root causes of poverty and injustice in the Greater Richmond area. Member congregations are located throughout the Greater Richmond area and are diverse in their socio-economic, racial, denominational and geographic background.  Among its recent accomplishments, RISC has pressed VCU’s Virginia   Coordinated Care Program to use its state and federal dollars more efficiently in order to ensure that more low-income uninsured persons have access to primary health care. Since RISC began its work, the number of individuals with access to primary care has jumped by more than 15,000.

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