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Richmond Housing Authority Moves Forward With Plans To Demolish Creighton Court

Public housing units
The Richmond Housing Authority is seeking federal permission to demolish Creighton Court. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

At a meeting on Wednesday, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) voted to approve an application to advance the agency’s plans to demolish Creighton Court. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it received RRHA’s application last Friday — before public comment or a vote by the Board of Commissioners. 

Omari Al-Qadaffi, a housing organizer with the Legal Aid Justice Center, said RRHA didn’t give residents enough notice before the vote. The agency didn’t release the document until the morning before the vote. 

“I attempted to notify as many Creighton residents as possible because I knew that they would have thoughts to share at the meeting. Many were unable to make it on such short notice,” Al-Qadaffi said. 

RRHA CEO Damon Duncan said the agency wanted to make sure HUD had the information as soon as possible, even though construction isn’t set to begin until 2021. 

“Some things don’t need to continue to be revetted,” Duncan said. He added that turning them into HUD before the vote was standard practice. However, a spokesperson for HUD denied that claim. 

HUD rejected RRHA’s annual and five year plans last September but said that the agency could still get the green light to demolish Creighton Court if those plans have been outlined in previous years and approved. VPM has requested copies of those documents from RRHA.

RRHA officials met with residents of Creighton Court on Tuesday to explain its approach to redeveloping the property and talk about housing options both during and after construction. 

In November, residents and advocates raised concerns about nearly 100 vacant units at the public housing property. Last night, reading from a fact sheet, Duncan said the warehoused units would be used to house some residents during redevelopment. 

“The sole purpose of this policy is to minimize disruption for existing residents later in the development process,” Duncan said. 

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board barred some people from sharing their concerns on the issue, citing a rule that prevents the same person from sharing public comment more than once in 90 days. 

“This rule has very rarely been enforced — I have personally spoken before the board more than once in a 3 month period,” Al-Qadaffi said.  “I believe the rule to be a relic of a more overtly racist era when Black residents were heavily disenfranchised by many laws made by Richmond’s white corporate community.”

 

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