City News

Press Releases and Announcements

Biennial real estate plan proposes to allot parcels for affordable development, homeownership

Today, Mayor Stoney announced that the administration’s Biennial Real Estate Strategies Plan places an emphasis on using city land to promote affordable housing development and affordable homeownership.
The City of Richmond administration will present the 2020 Biennial Real Estate Strategies Plan to Richmond City Council at the body’s September 28 meeting. This year, the plan’s focus is using city real estate as a means to equitably increase affordable housing accessibility and homeownership opportunities throughout the city.
“A fervent sense of restorative justice should impact everything coming out of City Hall,” said Mayor Stoney. “The issuance of this plan might be standard, but the contents are uniquely dedicated to using the city’s assets to promote affordable housing and help our city recover from the setbacks of the pandemic.”
The plan lists 66 parcels of city-owned real estate throughout the city. Each parcel is categorized for one of three proposed uses.
The plan proposes the plurality of parcels be conveyed to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT) for the development of affordable homes.

Number of Parcels

Future Use

Proposed Conveyance


Affordable homeownership

City to Maggie Walker Community Land Trust


Affordable multi-family rental units

City to non-profit affordable housing organizations through RFPs


Large-scale mixed-use and mixed-income development

City to developers through RFP (with commitment to affordable housing)

According to Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic and Community Development Sharon Ebert, who was hired by Mayor Stoney in 2019, the city should use available real estate holdings to promote equitable affordable housing development.
“To make housing affordable, we have to make the price of developing that housing affordable,” said DCAO Ebert. “If non-profit affordable housing developers have to pay market rate, that adds to the costs and makes it more challenging to serve lower-income residents. We can make city-owned land available at below-market rates for developers who share our commitment to affordable housing.”
The third group of parcels are proposed to host future large-scale mixed-use and mixed-income development. As such, some of these high-value parcels will be sold through a competitive RFP process to provide immediate cash proceeds to address CIP needs and result in important community benefits.
“We intentionally designed this plan for the conveyance of city-owned lands to increase affordable housing development, facilitate Black and brown homeownership through the MWCLT and provide a much-needed stimulus kick for the city’s CIP funds,” said Mayor Stoney of the plan.
City Code §8-56(c) requires that the Chief Administrative Officer provide a biennial real estate strategies plan consisting of recommendations for the sale and disposition of city-owned parcels of real estate to Richmond City Council every even year.
Once the plan is presented, the administration will introduce legislation to move forward with elements of the plan. Any conveyances of city-owned land do require approval by ordinance of City Council.
Below is a timeline of eviction diversion and affordable housing action items in since Mayor Stoney hosted the Affordable Housing and Community Development Summit.
November 2017 – Affordable Housing and Community Development Summit
January 2019 – Founding of the first of its kind in the Commonwealth Eviction Diversion Program
March 2019 – City hires in a permanent capacity Sharon Ebert, DCAO of Economic and Community Development
August 2019 – City team began work on the Equitable and Affordable Housing Plan
August – December 2019 – City team meets with stakeholders to develop plan
January 2020 – Mayor Stoney notes that the city is on track to meet its goal of 1500 affordable units by the end of 2020 and mentions Equitable Affordable Housing Plan (delayed due to pressing needs brought on by the pandemic)
Spring 2020 – City dedicates roughly 14M to rent relief, eviction diversion and emergency shelter beds to manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
September 2020 – Stoney administration introduced ordinance to earmark funds for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, presents Equitable Affordable Housing Plan to City Council


City of Richmond Office of Minority Business Development launches new supplier and diversity portal for business registration

The City of Richmond’s Office of Minority Business Development (OMBD) has launched a new Supplier and Diversity Portal through B2GNow. 

The new portal will be used for minority business enterprise (MBE) and emerging small businesses (ESB) to register with OMBD’s office and can be accessed by visiting this link:

The new system will be utilized for MBE/ESB registration along with compliance management for accurate tracking of MBE/ESB spending, goal setting, certification, and much more. All minority small businesses are encouraged to register their business via the new portal. 

OMBD plans to deactivate the current MBD Businesses Directory on December 31, 2020 and encourages all registered businesses to re-register their firm. OMBD staff is available for assistance with the portal and to answer any questions. The new B2GNow system is a nationwide database and would provide exposure and full access to opportunities across the United States.  

OMBD will host a variety of trainings to assist businesses with getting registered in the new system. The first training will be Wednesday, September 30, 2020 from 12p.m – 1:30p.m. All businesses are encouraged to attend! Registration is required in order to receive the meeting link and conference call information. 

Registration is required. Register now:


Mayor Stoney proposes funding mental health pilot program with partners RCHD, RBHA

On Wednesday, Mayor Stoney announced that he will recommend part of the city’s projected surplus balance fund a pilot program dedicated to addressing mental health and substance abuse disorder challenges in underserved communities.
The city will work alongside the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) and Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) in designing and implementing this pilot.
“Richmond residents who live with mental and behavioral health challenges are experiencing compounded harms during the pandemic,” said Mayor Stoney. “But this program should not be limited to short-term relief. We need a permanent culture shift to destigmatize seeking help.”
The year-long pilot aims to increase the accessibility of mental and behavioral health support in communities that suffer from disparities in care and outcomes. Director of RCHD Dr. Danny Avula asserts this begins with listening.
“Our intention with this program is to listen to the community and use that input to define the scope of long-term services,” said Dr. Avula. “Does the community need a psychiatrist who can write prescriptions, or would a licensed clinical social worker who can provide ongoing therapy do the most good?”
“A very real stigma still exists around seeking mental and behavioral health treatment,” said Director of RBHA Dr. John Lindstrom. “With this pilot program, we have the opportunity to bring quality, reliable treatment to communities that have historically been underserved in this arena.”
RBHA treats patients referred to the organization, but the onus traditionally is on the patient to seek out services and follow through on referrals. This pilot program, by establishing a mental health presence in RCHD’s community resource centers, will increase accessibility and destigmatize seeking out support.
The mayor announced on September 16 that he will be allocating $500,000 in surplus Special Purpose funds to address health disparities in Richmond. Part of this allocation will go toward funding the pilot program.


Mayor Stoney, LGBTQ advocates raise Pride flag at City Hall for first time

Mayor Stoney and LGBTQ advocates raised a Pride flag at city hall to recognize the city’s annual PrideFest weekend.
“LGBTQ Richmonders should know that this city stands behind them,” said Mayor Stoney. “No matter who you love or how you identify, you are a valued member of our community deserving of love, support and justice.”
This is the first time in the city’s history a Pride flag has been raised at City Hall. The flag flies on the Broad Street side of the complex in recognition of the city’s annual PrideFest weekend. 
The city chose to raise the Progress Pride flag. The flag incorporates black and brown stripes and the colors of the Transgender Pride flag to represent the necessity for champions of the LGBTQ community to bring a racial justice, inclusive lens to the work.
“We chose the Progress Pride flag both for this moment and to represent our ongoing work,” said Mayor Stoney. “To build an equitable, inclusive city, we must move forward with intentional intersectionality. Nobody should be left behind.”
City officials were joined by James Millner, Interim Executive Director of Virginia Pride, Lacette Cross and Louise “Cheezi” Farmer, founders of Black Pride RVA, Zakia McKensey, founder of Nationz Foundation, and various other representatives of LGBTQ groups in Richmond.
At the event, James Millner presented Virginia Pride’s annual Firework Award, given individuals and organizations that are catalysts for change for the LGBTQ community. Past recipients include former Governor Terry McAuliffe, transgender activists Gavin Grimm and Zakia McKensey, Bill Harrison and Ted Lewis. This year’s recipient was Black Pride RVA.
“Richmond’s LGBTQ community is tremendously grateful to the mayor, the City Council and the City of Richmond for taking this historic step of raising a Pride flag at City Hall in recognition of RVA’s PrideFest weekend,” said James Millner, Interim Executive Director of Virginia Pride. “This gesture of inclusivity sends a powerful message that this city’s LGBTQ residents and visitors are not only welcome here but are celebrated as strong and vibrant threads of the fabric of Richmond.”
The mayor also issued a proclamation recognizing Virginia PrideFest weekend. You can read the proclamation here.
The flag will fly over City Hall through PrideFest weekend and the end of September to close out Virginia Pride Month.
Video of the flag raising will be available on the city’s YouTube channel.


Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety presents mayor with recommendations

Read the full report. 

On September 23, 2020, the Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety presented Mayor Levar Stoney with their initial recommendations after 45 days of discussing actionable proposals to make Richmond a safer city for all residents.
“After meeting with the co-chairs of the Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety and co-chairs of each of the subgroups, I am in consensus with their recommendations,” said Mayor Stoney. “They propose systems-level changes for the undeniably systemic challenges we face. The members are pushing our city in the right direction when it comes to broadening the definition of public safety and innovating our policies and programs accordingly.”
“I appreciate the comprehensive feedback and suggestions of this group of experts and community members,” said Chief of Police Gerald Smith. “Their attention to current policies and practices and innovative reform suggestions are a welcome starting point.”
The membership of the task force was announced on July 10. The first public group meeting was August 7, and the full body has met every two weeks since that date.
Subgroups of the task force include: Community Engagement and Healing, Human Service Lens for calls for service, and Use of Force. Each of the subgroups met weekly since August 7. 
The task force will present a final report to the mayor on November 5, 2020.
Said co-chair Officer Carol Adams of the work: “Our city’s entire public safety apparatus can best serve the community when we incorporate thoughtful input borne out of diverse life experiences. The work of this group reflects that charge.”
“Our work isn’t just about police. It’s about expanding the definition of public safety and public safety officers to include social service professionals and community members,” said co-chair Daryl Fraser. “If we don’t take a holistic approach, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.”
The initial recommendations are subject to change based on additional discussions within the task force, research, evaluations and/or legal review. 
Human Services Lens Subgroup
The subgroup suggests that a new routing system be developed so that mental health, conflict resolution, substance abuse and other non-criminal calls are addressed by appropriate community members and professionals. 
Routing systems should empower community members or police officers to forward calls outside of their area of expertise to the proper location. This may include working with the Office of Emergency Communications to develop a different triage system for 911 calls. 
This must also be accompanied by a community cultural shift in response to conflict. This may include more training programs in conflict de-escalation or the use of community ambassadors and other human services employees to intervene in non-criminal situations. 
“These are systems-level changes,” said subgroup co-chair Torey Edmonds. “Therefore, there must be accountability alongside those changes.”
The subgroup also suggests that the city utilize community assets and community members to contribute to a holistic human services and public safety program.
The suggestion acknowledges, and requires the larger community to acknowledge, the connection between poverty and a long list of community issues, including crime.
Human service providers must incorporate community members into the model of service and resource delivery for it to be successful. If it is untenable for members of affected communities to be recruited and trained for these positions, then those organizations must address the structural barriers holding community members back.
“We can’t think of public safety as just police officers,” said Edmonds. “We must tap into the community assets we have.”
Use of Force Subgroup
The Use of Force Subgroup has proposed six recommendations, which follow in italics.
Revisit the Richmond Police Department’s Use of Force policies to humanize interactions between officers and civilians.
The subgroup proposes emphasizing de-escalation, including a values statement in the policy and establishing a strong requirement to intervene when another officer acts unethically.
The group notes that despite the fact that the written policy meets national standards, uneven implementation and lack of familiarity with the use of force continuum leads to leads to discrepancies in service. 
Reimagine training practices to center ongoing education, outside expertise and dedicated time to learn de-escalation techniques.
The group suggests the RPD implement more frequent de-escalation training, begin a community training academy inspired by the Chicago Police Department and begin trauma-informed and cultural sensitivity trainings.
The subgroup plans to continue to explore more impartial training techniques, stringent hiring and bias screening processes and police culture shifts.
Increase communication, education and transparency.
The subgroup found that information about RPD policies and practices is sometimes is not readily available to the public. They recommend a number of public information improvements to eliminate misinformation and contextualize police actions in the community, including the use of graphics to illustrate the continuum of use of force.
The report suggests using the websites of Eugene, Oregon and Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s police departments as exemplars.
Part of transparency necessarily overlaps with understanding what use of force entails, on both the community and officer’s parts. The subgroup suggests training videos for officers include an explanation of what each level of force along the continuum feels like.
Improve accountability measures, which has been a special focus of the task force according to the subgroup’s report.
The subgroup fully supports the creation of an independent civilian review board with subpoena power, a project now housed with the Richmond City Council. The subgroup has developed other solutions to improve accountability within RPD. 
The subgroup recommends RPD create business cards for all officers to include professional information and a link to a complaint or compliment form online, mandating cards are provided to residents on certain calls for service.
“It is very difficult to make a complaint and expect that complaint to be fairly and justly adjudicated by police,” said subgroup co-chair Sheba Williams.
Therefore, the subgroup recommends creating an anonymous reporting system for residents to file complaints and providing for the public a complete account of the use of body camera footage policies. 
Create opportunities to improve officer mental health.
The group recommends shortening officer shifts from 12 hours to 10 hours, mental health and wellness check-ins for officers on a regular basis and beginning an award program for officers who perform in accordance with community standards on duty. 
On the mental health of officers, Williams noted: “We know trauma is encountered throughout a career. If that goes unaddressed, it affects the community.”
Standardize the approach language utilized by officers.
Approach language is the phraseology an officer uses as they begin interacting with a civilian during a call for service. The subgroup recommends standardizing this language because respectful, police language reduces negative encounters and decreases use of force.
Community Engagement and Healing
The Community Engagement and Healing subgroup decided to focus on three specific areas to consolidate a wealth of innovative recommendations: acknowledgement of harm; community engagement programs and initiatives; and support of public safety, policy and practice changes that increase public trust and accountability.
One of the subgroup’s suggestions is the creation of community conferencing circles. The model is a culturally responsive diversion program mediating disputes and addressing concerns without conflict. 
Said subgroup co-chair Ram Bhagat on the proposal: “Community conferencing is a community based restorative process designed to empower community residents with their own means of resolving disputes that would otherwise be settled by traditional adjudicatory courses of action.”
The subgroup also proposed the founding of a Center for Racial and Social Justice. This would serve as a clearinghouse for training and conflict mediation for all parties, from officers to civilians to city employees.
Contextualizing the subgroup’s plan is the Massive Resilience framework, a process that begins with understanding of past and present harm and builds to community-wide healing. Community engagement and public safety policy and practice changes are vital to building Massive Resilience.
Click here to read the full report.


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