Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mayor Stoney announces creation of City of Richmond Eviction Task Force

Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the creation of the City of Richmond Eviction Task Force, an advisory body charged with addressing the causes of evictions in Richmond and prescribing preventative solutions.

The task force will work alongside the city’s Eviction Diversion Program, a first-of-its-kind within the Commonwealth of Virginia mediation program providing rental assistance, pro bono legal support, financial counseling, and supportive service referrals to residents already in the court system for rent-due cases and facing housing insecurity.

The Eviction Diversion Program, launched in October 2019 in partnership with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Firms in Service and the court system, is poised to thwart hundreds of potential evictions in its first year.

“The Eviction Diversion Program will make a real impact in the lives of some of our most vulnerable community members currently facing eviction proceedings in court,” said Mayor Stoney. “However, we recognize that we also have the responsibility to address the root causes of evictions and work to prevent the threat of eviction from occurring in the first place. I am counting on this group to explore steps the city can take to better understand, mitigate and prevent the conditions that make our most vulnerable residents, including our children, susceptible to housing insecurity.”

The task force will include housing and human services stakeholders, affordable housing and social justice advocates, youth and family homelessness specialists, public housing residents and property management professionals, including leadership of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA), which recently agreed to freeze eviction proceedings and partner with Mayor Stoney’s Eviction Diversion Program to mediate rent-due cases between RRHA and its tenants, educate RRHA residents through financial literacy workshops and prevent evictions from public housing units.

“Housing is a matter of equity and justice, and it touches every other aspect of a person’s life,” said Mayor Stoney. “Evictions in Richmond disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income, single-family households with children, creating a traumatic downward spiral for people already suffering from economic challenges and other hardships. That is why it is critical for us to innovate bold, collaborative and compassionate methods to better meet the needs of all Richmonders.”

The task force will meet regularly to provide the mayor with recommendations and guidance on how the city can holistically address the eviction crisis and ensure housing stability for all of Richmond’s residents, especially for its most historically vulnerable communities. 

City of Richmond Eviction Task Force Members:

Omari Al-Qadaffi – Housing organizer/Legal Aid Justice Center
Jovan Burton – Partnership for Housing Affordability
Janae Craddock/Marty Wegbreit – Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
Damon Duncan – Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority
Douglas Dunlap – City of Richmond Department of Housing and Community Development
Reggie Gordon – City of Richmond Office of Human Services
Tracey Hardney Scott – Housing Chair, NAACP
Kelly King Horne – Homeward
Kathryn Howell/Ben Theresa – VCU/RVA Eviction Lab
Christie Marra– Virginia Poverty Law Center
Heather Mullins Crislip/Monica Jefferson – Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia
LaFonda Page – RRHA Resident/Legal Aid Justice Center
William Poarch - ACTS
Erika Schmale – Richmond Public Schools’ McKinney Vento Homeless Education Specialist
Patrice Shelton – Hillside Court Tenant Council
Alice Tousignant – HD Advisors
Lisa Williamson – Real estate broker, Richmond Property Owners Association, National Association of Residential Property Managers

The first meeting of the Eviction Task Force will take place December 2, 2019, 4 – 5:30 p.m. in the large conference room on the 2nd floor of City Hall, 900 E. Broad Street. Future Eviction Task Force meeting dates, times and locations will be publicized by the City Clerk’s Office and the Mayor’s Office. 

For more information on the Eviction Task Force or the Eviction Diversion Program, contact Osita Iroegbu, the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor for Community Engagement, Inclusion and Equity, at Osita.Iroegbu@richmondgov.com.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Richmond City Council unanimously passes Mayor Stoney’s ordinance requiring reporting of lost and stolen firearms


During its November 12 meeting, Richmond City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring any person who loses a gun or has one stolen in the City of Richmond to report the loss or theft to the Richmond Police Department.

The ordinance, proposed by Mayor Stoney and introduced on October 14, intends to prevent the trafficking of lost and stolen guns, which are more likely to be used in criminal offenses. At the time of introduction, 354 firearms had been reported stolen in the City of Richmond.

The legislation aims to prevent gun crimes before they occur by requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to police within 24 hours of realizing a loss or theft has occurred. The reporting requirement became effective upon passage.

“I’m thankful City Council took this important step to help prevent gun violence in Richmond,” said Mayor Stoney. “This reporting requirement isn’t a fix-all, but this additional level of accountability and responsibility will go far toward protecting our community and providing police with another tool to keep our communities safe.”

Mayor Stoney acknowledged the support and assistance of gun safety groups, including Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety and community advocates who have been directly impacted by gun violence.

“This commonsense gun legislation is an important step for the City of Richmond, but it should also serve as a call to action for state lawmakers,” Mayor Stoney said. “I urge members of the General Assembly, both the incumbents and the newly elected, to not just codify this simple change into state law but to embrace the opportunity before them – the opportunity to meaningfully address gun violence in our Commonwealth by approving Governor Northam’s proposed gun safety reforms. Every Virginian deserves to feel safe and secure.”


Richmond City Council also voted on a motion to amend Ordinance No. 2019-288, which proposes prohibiting distracted driving while using a handheld communications device.

The amendment aims to mitigate concerns that the original language required law enforcement to make real-time decisions based on potentially subjective understandings of what constitutes evidence of diverted attention.

The original ordinance reads, in part, “any person who drives a motor vehicle on any public street or highway in the city while using any handheld personal communications device [where such use diverts such person’s attention from the operation of the motor vehicle] is guilty of distracted driving.” The amendment removes the bracketed phrase, clarifying that any use of a handheld communications device while driving constitutes distracted driving. 

The change ensures that drivers within city limits will be held to a uniform standard under the law.

The proposed distracted driving ordinance, with the amended language, has been continued to the December 9 meeting of Richmond City Council.

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