Community activists call for removal of RRHA director

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Community activists are calling for the head of Richmond’s public housing to be removed.

“We are drowning here, we are dying here,” said community activist Arthur Burton.

Shut out of a meeting held earlier this week with Richmond’s mayor, police chief and head of public housing discussed concerns over violence. Community activists say they’re sick of being shut out of the process to improve public housing.

“We need a housing management that is concerned about human lives and not just land grabbers and gentrifriers,” said Burton.

Community activist Arthur Burton: “We need a housing management that is concerned about human lives and not just land grabbers and gentrifriers.”

Lillie Estes says she sat on the city’s anti-poverty commission but none of her recommendations were followed when it came to gathering information on how to improve Richmond’s public housing.

“We have some challenges of what real information that benefits community members,” said Estes.

Lillie Estes says she sat on the city’s anti-poverty commission but none of her recommendations were followed

The group also says the city’s approach to de-centralize public housing has only displaced thousands of residents.

A few months ago the head of RRHA pointed to Blackwell and Dove Court as successful decentralized mixed use neighborhoods.

“A lot of positive outcomes, not only in terms of reduction of crime but also a whole change in lifestyles,” said T.K. Somanath, head of RRHA back in May.

T.K. Somanath, head of RRHA

“It’s a disgrace if RRHA or anyone else uses that as a success story,” Burton said.

The group says thousands of residents who lived in those neighborhoods are now unaccounted for.

“That’s how they think, we’ve got some pretty buildings here now but the people are gone,” Burton said.

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.