Don’t Let A Smoke-Filled Room Demolish Public Housing

Today, July 17, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners will hold its first full meeting since its public comment period on proposed annual plans have ended. 

Lillie A. Estes often spoke of smoke-filled rooms where decisions are made for people instead of with people. The Board of Commissioners have sat obscured by their own smoke for too long.

There are many examples of RRHA operating in bad faith just in the past few months. They did not publish a schedule of meetings on redevelopment until pressed to do so, and then offered a schedule of meetings that had already taken place. When they released public comments on the proposed one-year and five-year plans, they excluded several from other individuals.

RRHA is hoping to make decisions in isolation, without the public weighing in. They’ve demonstrated this not only by their lack of communication about meetings but also their failure to fully share what the public has said about their plans.

Those plans include the demolition of housing, after years of the public pressing for one-to-one replacement for any brick-and-mortar structure that is torn down. Anyone wishing to comment on RRHA’s plans to comment on this, or other issues,  is required to use this form. (It’s possible the request may be rejected because the meeting is today.)

Being in the room is also important. This board is too comfortable operating in front of empty chairs. They make decisions affecting thousands of people now, and in the future, in front of no one. 

There is a regular Board of Commissioners meeting each month, in addition to committee meetings where many of the important decisions the Board makes take shape. While RRHA makes it difficult to keep track of when these meetings take place, we should try to fill the room. We need them to understand that they can try to keep us out, and we’ll show up anyway.

For more information, see Richmond For All’s petition here.