Monday, May 3, 2010

Housing is a Human Right! A Report Back the 4/20 Meeting W/ RRHA

On April 20, over 30 public housing residents and other RePHRAME members brought their message of housing justice to the RRHA Board of Commissioners meeting.  Cora Hayes, Anson Bell, and Vanessa Valentine spoke on behalf of RePHRAME during the public comment period.  RePHRAME supporters gathered inside the meeting as Ms. Hayes questioned RRHA’s transparency and honesty in working with RePHRAME; Mr. Bell called on RRHA to step up its efforts to provide “Section 3” job training and employment opportunities for public housing residents; and Ms. Valentine urged RRHA to institute local rent payment and to put energy into building housing for low-income residents, not just tearing it down.  Outside, more RePHRAME members held signs along Chamberlayne Avenue saying “Housing is a HUMAN Right” and “One City One Community,” as supportive drivers honked their horns and one man even parked his vehicle and joined RePHRAME.   

RePHRAME’s impact on the 20th was immediate.  After RePHRAME members spoke, one member of the Board of Commissioners asked that RRHA staff work to create an option for public housing residents to pay rent locally in Richmond.  Currently most residents are required to mail their rent to Baltimore, MD, resulting in additional postage fees, inconvenience, and late fees being charged even when residents have mailed their rent on time.  RRHA said they will work on creating a local rent payment process.  In response to Ms. Hayes’ comments, RRHA also scrambled to explain why they had changed wording in RePHRAME’s Residents’ Bill of Rights without first informing RePHRAME in writing and without making clear on the document that the changes were made by RRHA.  

RePHRAME calls on all residents of public housing, and anyone else who believes in transparency, inclusive communities, and better housing and employment opportunities, to join them in process and in action.  Meetings are once a month, and action is frequent.  Please call (804) 643-1086 x104 or email for more information. 

RePHRAME will continue to work to ensure that those who are most affected by housing decisions in Richmond have a seat at the table as plans and decisions take shape.  Because we must!