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Richmond Considers Giving Up City Property To Affordable Housing Non-Profit

The abandoned retirement facility straddles the Henrico/Richmond border near the I-64 and Mechanicsville Turnpike.
The abandoned retirement facility straddles the Henrico/Richmond border near the I-64 and Mechanicsville Turnpike. Provided by Virginia Supportive Housing

Richmond City Council is moving forward with a plan to hand over an abandoned retirement facility to a non-profit affordable housing developer. 


Virginia Supportive Housing wants to use the retirement home to create apartments for those making under 50 percent of the area median income, or about $29,000 for an individual. Part of the proposed 100 apartment units will also be used for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals. The development straddles the Henrico/Richmond border near the I-64 and Mechanicsville Turnpike. 


Allison Bogdanovic, the non-profit’s executive director, says the proposed project will meet an unmet need for getting people off of the street and into a more stable situation.


“Every night there are six to seven hundred people experiencing homelessness,” she said. “Of that, there are about 200 people experiencing chronic homelessness. That’s our target.” 


In order to start renovations, the City of Richmond will need to hand the property over to Virginia Supportive Housing. That plan has passed the city council’s Finance and Economic Standing Committee on Thursday afternoon with a recommendation that the full council approves the transfer. 


The majority of the property is in Henrico County and is still zoned for agricultural use. For that reason, a zoning change will also need to be approved by the Henrico County Board of Supervisors at a March 12 meeting.


City Council member Kristen Larson, who represents residents in Southwest Richmond, said the affordable housing project can be beneficial to residents throughout the region.


“I love to see this kind of regional cooperation, especially on the issue of affordable housing, and I look forward to more of it with Henrico and Chesterfield County,” Larson said.


If the project is approved, Virginia Supportive Housing will begin the process of securing the $25 million needed to renovate the retirement facility. The building has been vacant since 2008 when the Hospital Authority of Richmond shuttered senior living complex and turned the property over to the city.


In addition to 500-sq ft apartments, the non-profit is also planning to move its headquarters to the 5.5-acre property. The will provide additional services such as case management and nutrition programs. 


Bogdanovich says the hope is that it can serve as a model for supportive housing.


“Our organization has a 97 percent success rate in folks not returning to homelessness,”  she said. “And so this long-term lease spaced with rich services, we can really show this is the way to help folks out of chronic homelessness.”


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