Thursday, September 12, 2019

City of Richmond designated a Green and Healthy Homes Initiative site



The City of Richmond was recently designated a Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) site. 

Starting two years ago, representatives from the Richmond City Health District and the City of Richmond collaborated with numerous local community service providers to align, intertwine, and coordinate their programs with the goal of producing healthier, more energy-efficient housing, higher-quality green jobs, and improved health and social outcomes for families. Local leaders committed to this effort because they recognized it was an effective way to improve how the community addressed the connection between health and housing.

As part of the designation process, the stakeholders signed onto a compact to continue this important work. Signatories include: Director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Districts Dr. Danny Avula, Mayor Levar Stoney, KC Bleile of Viridiant, Lee Householder of project:HOMES, Malcolm Jones of Rebuilding Together Richmond, Ruth Ann Norton of Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and Amy Strite of Family Lifeline. These stakeholders intend to pursue several goals:
  • Work collaboratively to advance this initiative on behalf of the families we serve;
  • Coordinate housing intervention efforts and remove barriers to integration among city and state agencies and private partner stakeholders;
  • Conduct comprehensive housing assessments and interventions, integrating the areas of lead hazard reduction, Healthy Homes, weatherization, energy efficiency, and related work;
  • Align programs, braid funds, and coordinate agencies to the greatest extent feasible and allowed by law or regulation;
  • Support the establishment of enhanced national, state and local housing standards that implement a holistic housing approach; and
  • Break down barriers to full employment for low-income residents and promote equity through training and employment efforts.
“I am thrilled Richmond has been designated a GHHI site,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “Healthy homes are vital to improving outcomes for Richmond’s families. This collaborative approach to raising housing standards lays the foundation for a better quality of life for all of our residents.”
Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Department, noted, “The GHHI designation process was an important opportunity to gather local leaders at the intersection of health and housing. We are excited to highlight efforts like this, where the region can accomplish more by acting collectively.”
“We are delighted to welcome Richmond into the GHHI network. Richmond is doing the work and has the vision to work upstream to positively move the Social Determinants of Health for its community through healthier housing.  This Compact signifies this great work and leadership of GHHI-Richmond,” says Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative.
The GHHI process has already shown impressive results by strengthening or starting several impactful initiatives:
  • Culture of Health Richmond – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded the City of Richmond with the 2017 Culture of Health Prize. Partners since founded Culture of Health Richmond “to shed light on key health challenges, celebrate the innovation and courage of leaders who are bringing real change to life, and shift minds and hearts in Richmond toward a shared belief that every person deserves good health, meaningful choices, and respect.”
  • RVA Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control (LBPHC) Program – A HUD-funded 3-year program to control health hazards caused by lead based paint in homes and apartments built before 1978 where children under 6 or pregnant women reside. The City of Richmond administers this program in partnership with the Richmond City Health District’s Lead-Safe and Healthy Home Initiative and local non-profit project:Homes.
  • RVA Childhood Asthma Collaborative – An effort between community-based programs, Richmond City and Henrico Health Districts, Bon Secours Mercy Health, HCA Virginia Health System, and VCU Health System focused on improving lifestyle and healthcare outcomes for local children who have asthma.

For more information on Richmond’s involvement in the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, please contact:

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Mayor Stoney announces new Director of Department of Justice Services



Mayor Levar M. Stoney announced today the appointment of Dawn Barber as the Director of the City of Richmond Department of Justice Services.

A former assistant police chief for the City of Newport News, Barber brings more than 31 years of professional experience in justice services and law enforcement to the City of Richmond Department of Justice Services.  Most recently, Barber served as the Director of Juvenile Services for the City of Newport News. In addition to her experience in city government, she serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserves.

In her new role, Barber will oversee the city’s services for adults facing potential incarceration and youth who are either at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system or who have been formally processed by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. These services include prevention and diversion efforts, in-home services, monitoring and surveillance, secure confinement, counseling and case management. Barber will report directly to Reginald E. Gordon, DCAO for Human Services.

“The Department of Justice Services has the challenging task of supporting Richmonders at a critical inflection point in their lives,” said Mayor Stoney. “Dawn’s experience in both public safety and justice services programming gives her the right balance of discipline and compassion needed for the job.”

Barber obtained a Bachelor of Science in Governmental Administration and Criminal Justice Administration from Christopher Newport University. She is also a certified PREA Auditor through the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. 

“I am both humbled and excited to be selected to serve as the Director of Justice Services. I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to and partner with the other city agencies and the community at-large to ensure the department provides the highest level of service to the citizens of Richmond,” said Barber.

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Community Input Requested for Richmond 300, the City’s Master Plan Update



The City of Richmond’s Department of Planning and Development Review (PDR) seeks to once again engage the Richmond community in the development of the updated city master plan.

Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth, the city’s new master plan, is entering the next community engagement stage of development. The plan’s aim is to establish a 20-year vision for the city’s growth, factoring in extensive community input. 

Last fall, residents of Richmond shared their vision for the future of the city. Now, Richmonders can see and provide feedback on how their ideas have been incorporated into a vision for the city in 2037, the component goals necessary to create that vision and the draft land uses, transportation connections and strategies needed to achieve those goals.

From September 23 to November 3, community members can provide their thoughts at their convenience via any of the following four methods:

Attend a Richmond 300 Forum: Each forum will include a 30-minute presentation and 60 minutes of questions and answers. The information presented in each forum will be identical and children are welcome to attend. Spanish-language translators will also be available. If participants have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in the forum, please email richmond300@richmondgov.com by September 23 to arrange accommodations. 


Stop by a Richmond 300 Sharing Session: Visit during a two-hour window for informal conversations with planners at community spots like libraries, coffee shops and more. See richmond300.com/share for a full schedule.
Invite Richmond 300 to give a talk at your meeting: Email richmond300@richmondgov.com to request a talk. We will only need 5 minutes on your agenda. We would like your meeting to have at least 15 attendees and occur sometime between September 23 and November 3.
Provide your thoughts online at any time of day: An online survey and interactive maps will be live from September 23 to November 3 at richmond300.com/share.
For more information about the master plan update, please visit richmond300.com. 

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Statement by Mayor Levar M. Stoney on passage of Resolution No. 2019-R028, to support the prohibition of conversion therapy practices


“A city that values diversity, equity and inclusivity can’t stay silent about a barbaric and abusive practice that targets LGBTQ+ youth.

“I am proud that members of Richmond’s City Council joined me in opposing the inhumane and regressive practice of conversion therapy and affirming the sexual orientation and identities of all Richmonders.”

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Friday, September 6, 2019

City Hall to host “Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond” public art exhibit, September 4 to November 22



An exhibit exploring the themes and activists of the Civil Rights movement will be on display in Richmond’s City Hall from September 4 to November 22, 2019. The exhibit, titled “Growing Up in Civil Rights Richmond: A Community Remembers,” will include 28 photographic portraits in total, 25 displayed on the first floor of City Hall and three in the lobby of the Mayor’s Office. 

The photography exhibit seeks to amplify the diverse faces and voices that fueled the local civil rights movement. For the exhibit, photographer and visual journalist Brian Palmer photographed 30 Richmond locals whose childhoods were impacted by the civil rights movement, and University of Richmond history professor Laura Browder gathered oral histories through interviews with the subjects. Excerpts of the interviews will accompany and contextualize the photographs. Ashley Kistler, longtime Richmond-area curator and Chair of the Public Art Commission, and Dr. Browder conceived of the project originally.

“These compelling portraits and insightful narratives tell deeply personal stories of an important and pivotal time in our city’s history,” said Mayor Stoney. “I applaud the Public Art Commission for bringing this exhibit to City Hall and providing the opportunity to experience these stories at the intersection of our civic life, where they can be seen and heard and resonate with all Richmonders.” 

Displayed on the heels of the 2018 passage of the Public Art Master Plan, this exhibit signals the renewal of Richmond’s public art program and a replenished commitment to exploring Richmond’s identity through public art. Running concurrently with the show will be a separate exhibition of eight painted portraits of Richmond activists by local artist Hamilton Glass. 

The Richmond Public Arts Commission recently welcomed six new members and appointed a new Public Art Program Coordinator and Secretary to the Public Art Commission, Susan Glasser. The Commission is currently in the selection process for a new commissioner. 

“My fellow Public Art Commissioners join me in thanking Mayor Stoney for his enthusiastic support of this exhibition in City Hall, the ideal venue for extending its reach into the community,” said Kistler. “The powerful personal stories assembled here, told with courage and conviction, illuminate critical present-day challenges as they expand our understanding of a historic era.”
For more information on the exhibit, please contact Ashley Kistler at akistler@vcu.edu or (804) 363-6448.
 

 
Leonard L. Edloe, permanent collection display, Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Brian Palmer, 2018

The exhibit, which was originally displayed at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art at the University of Richmond from January 2019 to May 2019, is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, the Public Art Commission of the City of Richmond, the Richmond Department of Human Services, and the University of Richmond Museums.

To learn more about the Public Art Commission, please visit: http://www.richmondgov.com/CommissionPublicArt/index.aspx


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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mayor Stoney announces projected $15 million surplus to close FY 2019


Mayor to submit an ordinance to council proposing $6.2 million for Cost of Living Increase for Richmond retirees, the first in a decade

Mayor also proposes $1 million in investments for community centers and two ADA accessibility projects to improve access to the James River and riverfront parks

Thanks to increased tax revenues above projections, improvements in tax collection, and savings from efficiencies in departmental operations, the City of Richmond is projected to end Fiscal Year 2019 with an estimated $15 million surplus.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced he will propose an ordinance at the September 9th meeting of the Richmond City Council to dedicate $6.2 million of the surplus to fund a 1% increase in the Cost of Living Adjustment paid to city retirees – the first such increase paid to former city employees in more than a decade.

The proposal makes good on the mayor’s commitment to use budgeted surplus funds to provide a retirement boost to city retirees, which, due to a lack of resources during the budget process, was not included in the FY2020 Proposed or Adopted Budget.

The mayor is also proposing to allocate an additional $1 million of the surplus to further reduce the unfunded liability of the Richmond Retirement System (RRS).

“After years of dedicated public service, we must invest in the lives of our retirees,” said Mayor Stoney. “I’m pleased that our revenues and collection rates have exceeded projections, and that the efficiencies and savings we were able to find throughout the administration will allow us to give our retirees the increase they not only need but surely deserve,” the mayor said.

Mayor Stoney is also proposing to dedicate roughly $1 million to fund Capital Improvement Program projects, including accessibility enhancements along the James River, which were cut by city council earlier this year to balance the FY20 budget. 

These include: 

  • $500,000 for enhancements to Community Centers, many of which have not been upgraded in years and require major renovations to meet the needs of our residents;

  • $282,558 for the Tredegar/Brown’s Island Accessibility Project, which will provide an ADA-accessible path, covering an area of approximately 3,000 feet of new walkway, including ramps across Tredegar St. near Brown’s Island to support and provide access to ALL visitors of the Riverfront amenities on Brown’s Island;

  • $180,000 for universal access ramps at Huguenot Flatwater. Currently, there is only one ADA compliant river access point in the middle at Reedy Creek which is primarily for whitewater access. The proposed universal access ramp at Huguenot Flatwater will change that by connecting the upper 4 miles of James River with ADA compliant access points at both ends.
“With this surplus, we can begin to restore some of the funding that was cut from the adopted budget to fund much-needed capital improvements, which are crucial to ensuring our city is welcoming and inclusive of all its residents and provides access to one of our greatest assets – the river and riverfront areas,” the mayor said.

The Mayor also announced that collections of the city’s 1.5% addition to the meals tax is expected to exceed projections, with the city projected to collect roughly $9.3 million, above its projection of $9.1 million. Approved last year, the meals tax increase is solely dedicated to the funding for construction of Richmond Public Schools facilities, three of which are under construction: George Mason Elementary School, E.S.H. Greene Elementary School, and a replacement for Elkhardt-Thompson Middle School.   

“I’m very encouraged by our projected meals tax revenue increases,” said Mayor Stoney. “Not only do they prove that this was a sound approach to finance school facilities that are sorely needed today, but it also demonstrates that both Richmond residents and diners outside of the city alike are more than willing to put their money where their mouths are and invest in our kids. I’m grateful to them and to the great restaurant owners in our city for adding yet more value to Richmond’s dining experience.”

City officials identified several factors behind the projected surplus, including a projected savings of $6.6 million in operating efficiencies from the departments of city government and an increase in the Finance Department’s collection of real estate and personal property tax levies beyond what was previously projected.

A strong local economy in the fourth quarter produced increased revenues in such categories as sales taxes and lodging taxes, and concerted revenue administration efforts from delinquent collections, business audits, and tax enforcement also led to enhanced revenues.

In addition to the funding priorities identified by the mayor, 50% of the remaining surplus, per city council ordinance, would go to "rainy day" funds, which includes the unassigned balance and the Budget and Revenue Stabilization Contingency Reserve; 40% would go to the Capital Maintenance Reserve, and the remaining 10% would go to special purpose reserves.

The mayor’s announcement today drew support from a variety of city stakeholder, including retirees, environmental and accessibility advocates, as well as the nonprofit community.

Glenwood Burley, Retired Richmond Police Officer – “Today is a milestone moment for retirees. For decades, we have been in need of a cost of living increase. Mayor Stoney has been bold with this, he’s been committed to it, the administration has been supportive of it, so it’s a great day for all the retirees in the City of Richmond.”

Daisy Weaver, Former Richmond City Council Chief of Staff – “Mayor Stoney has kept his promise. Retirees are very mindful of the competing needs, priorities, and challenges facing the city. We are very much aware of today’s unpredictable financial climate. We’re especially grateful that consideration was still given to retirees. We ask City Council to support the mayor in this proposal.”

Keith Andes, President of the Richmond Fire Association – “This is a great day for the City of Richmond, for the city workforce, and for the city retirees.”

Sally Wetzler, Board Member, James River Outdoor Coalition – “The James River Outdoor Coalition has been working with the parks system to go ahead and get an accessible ramp put in. Right now, we’re lacking good access. We’re ready to get going, and I just wanted to say thank you very much.”

Chris Frelke, Director, Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities – “Just spending about 20 minutes outside improves the quality of life of individuals in our community. Today we take a huge step forward to give our community the ability to get outside for 20 minutes and enjoy it.”

Lisa Sims, CEO, Venture Richmond – “The area around Tredegar and Brown’s Island sees well over a million visitors each year. We could not be more pleased today that the mayor is recommending surplus funds be used to provide safe access to our downtown riverfront.”

Justin Doyle, Community Conservation Manager, James River Association – “I want to thank Mayor Stoney and his administration for their commitment to funding the Huguenot Flatwater Accessibility Project and Tredegar Street Accessibility Project. On behalf of the James River Association and a coalition of organizations that have been advocating for these projects, thank you very much Mayor Stoney.” 

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Statement by Mayor Levar M. Stoney on Virginia Crime Commission Hearings


"The Virginia General Assembly already has all the evidence it needs to reach the conclusion most Virginians reached years ago. We need action on commonsense gun safety laws, not more deliberation by the Virginia Crime Commission.

The epidemic of gun violence and the role Virginia's lax laws play in the proliferation of and access to firearms by those who should not have them will continue unabated until our lawmakers make the commitment to act on behalf of their constituents -- not the gun lobby -- and propose commonsense laws to protect the people they were elected to serve.

In the City of Richmond, 40 people have been shot and six killed since the day the Republican leadership in the General Assembly turned a special session called by the governor after the tragedy in Virginia Beach into a dismissive charade, spending all of 90 minutes before adjourning without discussing one of the 60 gun violence reform bills before them. Instead, they punted the issue to the Virginia Crime Commission to hold two days of hearings and then not convene again until after the November elections.

Further discussion is delay, and delay means another day that our residents, law enforcement and local elected leaders do not have the basic protections they need to keep our communities safe. Universal background checks, allowing localities to ban firearms from public places and imposing penalties for failing to report stolen firearms are simple steps supported by a majority of Virginians. Most importantly, they will save lives.

We owe it to all of those families and communities who have been traumatized by gun violence to do everything we can to keep firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them and away from places where children play and citizens conduct business. Let's hope the Commission's efforts are not another Republican charade, and that lawmakers will finally have the spine to implement these commonsense gun control laws.  Actions speak louder than words. Every Richmonder and every Virginian deserves to feel safe."

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