Monday, November 2, 2009

RESPONSE: 7th District City Council Person Candidate Deanna Lewis

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for the opportunity to address your concerns. Much appreciated. My response below:

1.     There should be 1-for-1 replacement of any public housing units lost through public housing redevelopment.  In other words, there should be no net loss of public housing units.  In addition, location of newly created public housing units, and other aspects of the redevelopment process, should increase the employment, education, and other opportunities of public housing residents.

I agree.

Improving conditions in and around Public Housing is on the top of my list as a Council member. Also, I strongly believe that new development should include a mix of low income and public housing units. The idea that a piece of land "is too valuable" to include PH is wrong. Consider the proposed sale of the GRTC land to RHHA. If it were to be decided that the parcel would NOT be sold to RHHA I'd be a very vocal advocate for a development with a mix of high-end, affordable and Public Housing units. Such a development would create a community where people of all income levels would be exposed to the same education, public services and better access to employment opportunities and the chance to prosper.

    The 7th District is home to a large number of the family housing developments in the city. I'll also work hard to insure that the need for PH is shared equally by all of Richmond's 9 districts if not physically, then financially to create a better environment for all of the residents.

2.     Current residents should have the right to return to newly developed public housing without any additional screening or requalification process.  In the past, additional credit checks and other screenings (above and beyond those to which public housing residents are routinely subjected) have been used to effectively prevent previous residents from coming back to the newly developed housing.  We believe redevelopment should not be used to get rid of residents who have done nothing to warrant eviction.

I agree. A good tenant is a good tenant regardless and should be welcomed back. Such action should also warrant an investigation as to why those practices were adopted and permitted.

3.     Public housing residents should have a meaningful voice in decisions regarding their housing and communities.  Currently only 1 out of 7 RRHA commissioners is a public housing resident.  RePHRAME proposes adding 2 additional seats to the RRHA Board of Commissioners which would be filled with RRHA residents.

I agree.

I would also go further and recommend that each PH community be encouraged to be engaged and form their own regularly scheduled tenant association meetings attended by a local Police Office noting their concerns, complaints and reporting on incidences in the neighborhood that the residents should watch out for as is done in the majority of all the civic associations. When you empower people to take ownership in their community it does make a difference.

    As a private citizen I was engaged in my community long before I considered running for CIty Council.  I've attended all of the major association/civic and tenant meetings in all parts of the 7th several times over. Each area they represent has needs specific to those areas. What is a concern in Fulton Hills may not apply to Whitcomb Court, Union Hill, Chimborazo etc. As Council Woman, I will continue to be on the ground and maintain an active part if these meetings. I will be encouraging them to appoint one member from each group to a new 7th District Council Community Task Force to give a greater voice to their neighborhoods and speak to the varied needs of the 7th. My intent is to be connected, available and present. It's my neighborhood, I live here and I intend for it to flourish.

Best regards,


My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of Earth.
- Abraham Lincoln