July 20 2012

5 Life Lessons Learned From Poor Housing in Low-Income Communities of Richmond, Virginia

Fair Housing is defined by the government as any housing that is free from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, handicap, status, or national origin. Quality Housing is housing that is safe, sanitary, and accessible. Whether it’s unfair or poor quality, having decent housing is important to everyone.

Most urban planners define quality housing by its location to transportation, its proximity to nutritional food, and its safety. However, many urban communities continue to struggle with the concept of whether housing is fair and where it might be located.

Consequently, urban planners have discovered that there has been a growing decline in quality housing across the country since the federal government stopped building affordable housing during the 1960’s and 1970′s.

This is especially true in Richmond, Virginia where the numbers of outdated public housing projects far outnumber those in larger cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and the City of Los Angeles. To combat this problem, the City of Richmond enacted the Neighborhoods in Bloom program in 1999. The program has largely focused on restoring Richmond’s historic neighborhoods. The program works by identifying areas in need and strengthening those areas by revitalizing their housing conditions.

However, while the program’s contemporary planning style has focused mainly on single family housing, what these programs have failed to do is address some of Richmond’s poor multifamily housing conditions like old architecture, garbage on sidewalks, and safety.

Could it be that Richmond officials don’t understand how to resolve these problems or do they simply not understand what problems exist? Whatever the problems might be, what is obvious is that much can be learned about these communities.

These are 5 lessons that can be taken away from Richmond’s efforts to improve poor housing in low income communities:

  • Poor housing has a far greater impact on families;
  • Poor housing is costly to governments;
  • Improving housing makes neighborhoods more sustainable;
  • Poor families and poor housing are connected;
  • Poor housing is about people, not just architecture.

What lessons can you take away from poor quality housing in your community?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

Jamaal Davis

Jamaal Davis has lived in Richmond, Virginia for over 37 years, where he was born and raised. He studied Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interests in urban planning began in the low-income neighborhoods of Southside Richmond, Virginia. As a result of those years, he has made it his goal to affect change in his community by changing its surroundings. His passion for planning lies in his desire to understand and change the housing conditions in low-income neighborhoods. He is currently working for a private consulting firm, but he plans on obtaining a planning position within a local government. His ultimate goal is to work for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 20th, 2012 at 12:11 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Housing, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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