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VPM Daily Newscast March 23, 2021

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Hosted by Benjamin Dolle, episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.

Listeners can subscribe through NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Tuesday, March 23, 2021:

  • A new study from the American Society of Criminology looked into what characteristics counties that use the death penalty more often share. Researchers found U.S. counties that are more religious, more Republican and have unstable economies are more likely to impose capital punishment.


  • Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled a new initiative yesterday to help Virginia students get access to financial aid for college. It pairs students with advisors, for virtual one-on-one sessions, to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. During the pandemic, Northam’s office says applications have dropped statewide by nearly 10%. It’s even higher for schools with high concentrations of low-income students. State officials highlight that some high school seniors lost access to the resources they need to apply for the aid as they moved to virtual classes. 


  • Richmond City Council is looking to rezone properties along Broad Street in the West End for transit-oriented development. As Roberto Roldan reports, that could mean higher density and less parking.


  • As Richmond City Council finalizes the 2022 budget, the city’s public housing authority is asking for help getting a development off the ground. Richmond Redevelopment and Public Housing Authority will tear down Creighton Court this fall, the city’s second-largest public housing community. The agency is asking City Hall for $6.8 million to make infrastructure improvements ahead of construction at the Creighton location, where it plans to build about 700 new homes. Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch says that while the budget is tight because of the pandemic, this project is important. Lynch suggested the city could tap federal money from the COVID-19 relief bill.


  • Richmond’s housing and eviction crisis has gained national attention in recent years. The city has had thesecond-highest eviction rate in the U.S. for much of the last decade. Now, the Partnership for Smarter Growth, the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Richmond for All are forming a coalition to advocate forpolicy solutions to that crisis. They say the city needs to adopt new zoning policies for affordable housing and then update their master plan to reflect goals to build more of it. The group is also calling for reforms to Richmond’s public housing authority. They argue tenants don’t get enough say in development and planning processes. The coalition will hold avirtual presentation breaking down their proposals next Monday at noon. 


  • The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 has continued to go down since the new year, as vaccines have become more available. Some parts of Virginia have moved into Phase 1c in vaccination efforts.  According to the state department of health, more than 24% of Virginians have received at least one dose, while nearly 1.2 million are fully vaccinated. Gov. Northam is expected to give an update on the state’s response to the pandemic today. It will be broadcast at 2 p.m. on VPM’s Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel.
VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.