Richmond operates under a "strong mayor" system, which means that the mayor leads the administration in its provision of city services and programs. With the help of the entire city administration and the partnership of the Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor Stoney is dedicated to building One Richmond, a city where residents can live up to their full potential regardless of where they live, how much money they have in their pocket, the color of their skin, how they worship or who they love.
The work of the Office of the Mayor builds toward that goal each and every day. Below are a few initiatives the office is excited to share with you.
Prioritizing Customer Service
During Mayor Stoney's tenure, Richmond saw the creation of the city's first Office of Citizen Service and Response. This office oversees the RVA311 call line, as well as its state-of-the-art web presence, found here.
Investing in Infrastructure
Mayor Stoney has prioritized an equitable road paving and sidewalk maintenance plan for the entire city, making up for years of underinvestment.
In FY2020, the city paved over 320 lane miles. That work constituted a roughly $22 million-dollar investment: $15 million from the CIP budget, $1 million in state revenue funds and $6 million in various DPW and Department of Public Utilities funding.
In FY2021, the mayor's budget included roughly $32 million for roads and sidewalks. $2 million went to sidewalk creation and maintenance, a key element of making Richmond a truly multi-modal city.
Building a Multi-Modal City
Due to the city's investment in FY2020, GRTC was able to expand service on three routes and create one new route servicing Fulton. In FY2021, the mayor's budget included over $7 million for GRTC to maintain service levels. On top of investments, the mayor initiated a partnership between GRTC and the City of Richmond to offer free bus rides for all riders on election day to promote voter participation.
Affordable, Stable Housing
In 2018, Mayor Stoney and his administration set a goal of increasing the number of housing units that are affordable by 1,500 by the year 2023. The lofty goal was a response to the increasing demand for housing in a growing city as well as a dearth of housing suitable for vulnerable groups, namely low-income families, veterans, people living with disabilities, the elderly and teens and children living in foster care.
The city is on track to exceed its goal of 1,500 units, with 1,628 units completed or under construction by the end of 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor made a number of emergency allocations to promote stable and affordable housing. In April, the city dedicated $5.8 million in local and federal funding to increase emergency shelter bed capacity and serve individuals facing homelessness and housing instability. In June, the city allocated $6 million in CARES Act funding to eviction diversion and rent relief programs.
Economic Empowerment through Development
In 2017, the mayor announced a request for proposal for the revitalization of the city's downtown. After 21 months of negotiations with the respondent, Navy Hill Development Corporation, a plan to revitalize the city center and create a catalyst to increase funding for education, housing, transit, streets and other core city services has been publicized.
Parks and green space play a central role in the quality of life and livability of cities, providing recreational space, exposure to nature and protection from the heat. However, Richmond currently only uses six percent of its land for parks and recreation, compared to the national average of 15 percent. As a result, 51,000 residents of Richmond live further than a 10-minute walk to a park.
To address this disparity, Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, the Mayor’s Office and community partners will join forces with the ultimate goal of identifying 10 pieces of city-owned land to be converted into green spaces. In phase one of this project, the mayor’s “Green Team” will identify and design five potential parcels of land.
Telling Richmond's Complete History
The mayor established the Shockoe Alliance and the History and Culture Commission, two bodies dedicated to telling a more inclusive, realistic and equitable history of Richmond.
In July of 2020, Mayor Stoney committed to funding a capital improvement budget amendment of between $25 and 50 million in the city’s five-year CIP plan specifically for the commemoration and memorialization of Richmond’s complete history. $3.5 million will be dedicated to the creation of the Shockoe Area Memorial Park.
The memorial park, a vision developed by the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project – a member of the Shockoe Alliance – and informed by years of community work in the area, will use greenspace and structural sites to create a space of memorialization, education and atonement. The Shockoe Alliance is currently preparing a Small Area Plan for Shockoe which includes the Shockoe Campus concept as part of a larger preservation and memorialization-focused vision which will incorporate the memorial park, a museum and other features.
Reimagining Public Safety
In June of 2020, Mayor Stoney made a commitment to enacting a crisis alert, also known as the Marcus Alert, exploring the creation of a Citizen Review Board (CRB), and reiterated RPD’s commitment to existing policy banning the use of chokeholds.
The Marcus Alert is named after Essex County Public Schools teacher and Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Marcus David Peters, who was killed in 2018 by a Richmond Police officer while experiencing a mental health crisis. The alert would enable the RPD and Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) to work collaboratively on calls for service related to persons experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis, with a focus on de-escalation by law enforcement and crisis intervention by mental health experts.
The Stoney administration and Richmond Police Department have been in conversation with RBHA on the creation and implementation of this crisis alert system since 2019.
The Stoney administration is committed to the establishment of a CRB, which should be an entity independent of the police department’s internal affairs and consist of a diverse group of stakeholders. The City Council and administration are working together to determine what a Richmond CRB would look like.
Responding Equitably to a Pandemic
In Richmond, the COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionately large effect on Black and brown communities, both in regard to case count and mortality. The city remains dedicated to fighting this disparity and reforming the systems that made it possible.
The Mayor's Office approached the state, requesting support for an equity-informed support program. The resulting program distributed roughly 50,000 units of masks, hand sanitizer and health literacy information to underserved communities.
In July, the Stoney administration unveiled a rent relief program for qualified immigrant families. The program is intended to provide support for those Richmonders excluded from federal assistance due to their immigration status. Read more here.
Investing in Our Greatest Asset
Mayor Stoney has made investment in the children of the City of Richmond his highest priority. He has made historic investments in Richmond Public Schools, partnering with Superintendent Jason Kamras to ensure the city's allocation is used to support all students, regardless of zip code, race, immigrant status or ability.
In FY2020, he made the largest investment in RPS in a generation, allocating the most money to public education in 25 years.
City of Richmond residents have contributed to this commitment to kids in RPS by paying the meals tax. All meals tax proceeds support the creation of three new schools in primarily Black and brown neighborhoods. These new schools would have opened their doors in September 2019 if the school year was not virtual.
Guaranteeing Out of School Time Opportunities
Mayor Stoney has guaranteed that every elementary and middle schooler in Richmond Public Schools has access to an out-of-school time program at or near their school, working with afterschool providers around the city to maximize access for kids regardless of zip code and income.
Read more about Mayor Stoney's out-of-school initiatives and accomplishments here.
Supporting Early Childhood in Richmond
During the onset of the pandemic, the Stoney administration worked with community partners to launch emergency childcare centers for emergency personnel. Learn more about that here.
As soon as the Richmond Public Schools School Board voted that the 2020/2021 school year would go virtual, the mayor convened the Childcare Task Force, dedicated to finding a solution to the challenge families will inevitably face as K-12 children stay home from school and parents are no longer allowed to work from home.
The mayor's Senior Policy Advisor for Youth Initiatives sits on the Childcare Task Force, alongside expert representatives from around the City of Richmond.