Friday, May 13, 2016

Mayor Dwight Jones Issues Statement on Passage of FY2017 Richmond Government Budget

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today following passage of the FY2017 Richmond Government Budget:
“I again want to thank Richmond City Council for the hard work undertaken through a very difficult budget deliberations process.  A great deal of work was done and hard decisions made to identify the additional $9.5 million in capital and operating funds for Richmond Public Schools.  These additional funds build on the more than $145 million in operating funds submitted as part of my budget. With this increased funding, that brings the total operating funding for Richmond Public Schools to $151.5 million; again the largest single share of the city’s entire budget. I’m also pleased that additional funding was provided in other much needed areas like public works, police, fire, and finance.

"The fact that budget discussions are always difficult discussions is not new.  Budget deliberations have even intensified as the country entered into a major recession over this last decade and State lawmakers were faced with making deep cuts to public education funding. So even as these deliberations have been particularly hard, the important thing is that we continue our work to identify future sustainable funding options to meet the growing needs of Richmond Public Schools. We are also continuing our work to position the City to pursue available revenues to address the growing needs of the city overall."

“I say again, that we all share similar priorities: meeting core commitments, protecting education, preserving fiscal integrity and ensuring a well-managed government. It is my hope that we will continue the dialogue and continue to work together in the interest of the greater good.”

City’s Office of Minority Business Development Convenes Empowerment 2016 Forum

The City’s Office of Minority Business Development (MBD) hosted more than 200 program graduates at the Empowerment 2016 forum for small and minority owned businesses at the Carillon at Dogwood Dell on May 12. The event acknowledged the individuals who have completed courses offered through the MBD Technical Assistance Program including - Money Smart, Construction Series, Emerging Small Business 101, Intermediate Small Business 201, and a host of other elective courses over the past year. Many of the program participants completed business plans during the program and are now implementing strategies to meet their goals.

In speaking of the Empowerment 2016 forum, Mayor Dwight C. Jones noted, “We recognize the importance of providing the necessary assistance to help entrepreneurs build better, stronger businesses, as a sturdy, diverse business base of successful small and minority businesses expands economic opportunities for all Richmonders.”

During the event Penny Gregory, Owner of A Penny for Your Thoughts Cleaning Services said, “The programs and services offered through this program and Mayor Jones have been essential for small businesses like mine. The program helped me to write my vision and my business plan. Now, I have an inheritance to pass down to my sons.”

Event speakers included Richmond City Council President Michelle Mosby, Senior Editor and Publisher of Northside Vibes Deone McWilliams, CEO of Rent-A-Wreck, Matthew Allen, and renowned leadership and productivity strategist and CEO of Randolph Unlimited, Wade Randolph who challenged attendees to unleash their power to reach their next levels of success.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Press Release on the Settlement of the Federal Mobile Home Lawsuit, ALTAMIRA-ROJAS ET AL. v. CITY OF RICHMOND

           The City of Richmond (“City”) has reached a settlement in the federal lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP regarding the City’s code enforcement efforts in mobile home parks.  The suit alleged that the City discriminated against mostly Latino residents in two of those mobile home parks where some of the most numerous and serious maintenance code violations were found.

            Through the course of the case, the City maintained that it took many steps to assist mobile home residents in repairing health and safety code violations. This included reaching out to mobile home manufacturers, local non-profits, and others to obtain free or inexpensive help for those residents. The City also maintained that it took great steps to be flexible with mobile home residents in the two mobile home parks where the plaintiffs resided. Although the City provided language assistance services to those mobile home residents, those efforts did not meet all the language needs of those residents. As a result, the City will be in a better position going forward and better able to serve all City residents.

            In an effort to resolve this matter more quickly and inexpensively than through continued litigation, the City has offered to work with a third-party organization which will assist mobile home residents in identifying and making home repairs before concentrated inspections begin in mobile home parks. The City has also agreed to adopt a language access policy consistent with federal guidance documents, which will benefit Richmond’s growing Latino population and enable the City to serve those residents more effectively. The City will also ensure that key City managers and departments will participate in applicable Fair Housing training.

            The City will also pay a very modest $25,000, to be divided among 33 current and former plaintiffs, for their home repair or relocation needs. The City will also provide another $15,000 to the plaintiffs’ counsel, for them to allocate more broadly for home repairs in mobile home communities.

            The City will also add mobile home communities to its list of high-priority communities under a City contract which assists qualified home owners with critical home repairs. The City will also be working collaboratively with non-profits assisting mobile home residents as the City continues to address critical health and safety needs in mobile home parks.

            The City appreciates the efforts that the Legal Aide Justice Center and Crowell & Moring took to help an often underserved population which can have a difficult time obtaining adequate legal representation. The City also appreciates the assistance from Mark Rubin and VCU’s Center for Consensus Building in helping to resolve this case in an amicable manner.

Please see the following for a Spanish translation of the above Press Release

Para su difusión inmediata – martes, 10 de mayo, 2016


La Ciudad de Richmond (“Ciudad”) ha llegado a un acuerdo con relación a la demanda federal presentada por el Centro de Justicia y Ayuda Legal (Legal Aid Justice Center en inglés) y la firma Crowell & Moring LLP referente a los esfuerzos por hacer cumplir con el código de la ciudad en los parques de casa móviles. La demanda alegaba que la Ciudad discriminaba en contra de los habitantes, mayormente latinos, en dos de estos parques de casas móviles donde fueron encontrados la mayoría de las violaciones de mantenimiento, más serias, del código.

A través del curso de este caso, la Ciudad mantuvo que tomó muchas medidas para ayudar a los habitantes de las casa móviles a reparar las violaciones del código en cuando a salud y seguridad. Esto incluyó contactar a los fabricantes de casa móviles, a organizaciones locales sin ánimo de lucro y más para obtener ayuda barata o gratuita para esos habitantes. La Ciudad también mantuvo que tomó grandes medidas para ser flexible con los habitantes de las casa móviles, en los dos parques donde los demandantes residían. Aunque la Ciudad ofreció servicios de ayuda con el idioma a los habitantes de esas casa móviles, estos esfuerzos no cumplían con las necesidades de lenguaje de esos habitantes. Como resultado, la Ciudad estará en una mejor posición, avanzando y mejorando el servicio a todos sus habitantes en el futuro.

En un esfuerzo por resolver este asunto de una manera más rápida y menos costosa que en una continua litigación, la Ciudad ha ofrecido trabajar con una organización que funja como tercera parte, la cual ayudará a los habitantes de las casa móviles a identificar y hacer las reparaciones a las casas antes de que las inspecciones concentradas comiencen en los parques de casas móviles. La Ciudad también acordó adoptar una política en cuanto al acceso al lenguaje consistente con las guías federales, la cual beneficiará a la creciente población latina de Richmond y permitirá a la Ciudad servir de manera más eficiente a dichos habitantes. La Ciudad también se asegurará de que los departamentos y directores claves de la Ciudad participen en el entrenamiento aplicable sobre Vivienda Justa.

La Ciudad también pagará la muy modesta cifra de $25,000 dólares, para que sea dividida entre los 33 antiguos y actuales demandantes, para la reparación de sus casas o necesidades de reubicación. La Ciudad además dará otros $15,000 dólares al concejo de demandantes, para que lo puedan distribuir de manera más amplia para reparaciones de casas en las comunidades de casas móviles.

La Ciudad también incluirá las comunidades de casas móviles a su lista de comunidades de alta prioridad en un contrato de la Ciudad, el cual ayuda a propietarios de casas que califiquen con reparaciones críticas a las casas. Además, la Ciudad estará trabajando de manera colaborativa con organizaciones no lucrativas para ayudar a los habitantes de casas móviles, a medida que la Ciudad continua atendiendo las necesidades críticas de salud y seguridad en los parques de casas móviles.

La Ciudad aprecia los esfuerzos que el Centro de Justica y Ayuda Legal, y Crowell & Moring realizaron para ayudar a una población frecuentemente carente de servicios, la cual puede tener momentos difíciles obteniendo una representación legal adecuada. La Ciudad también aprecia la asistencia de Mark Rubin y del Centro de Creación de Consenso de la VCU por ayudar a resolver este caso de una manera amigable.