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City leaders unveil ‘short term’ solutions to address violence in the courts

RICHMOND, Va. -- Mere miles from Richmond City Hall, a little boy rode his bike around Mosby Court as city leaders, and the head of the Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority, talked about what needs to be done to protect him, and the nearly 10,000 people who lives in Richmond's housing projects.

Fifty percent of the residents are under the age of 18.

"I have instructed the chief and requested TK (Somanath, CEO RRHA) to take whatever legal means at their disposal to re-double their efforts to stem the tide of violence," Mayor Levar Stoney said.

What does that mean?

In the short term, RRHA plans to aggressively enforce leases among households involved in criminal activities, add improved lighting, install cameras throughout the housing projects, and implement a car registration decal program.

Related: Community activists force into briefing on deadly gun violence

It also means more police officers deployed in the courts, and the ramifications that result.

"With increased deployment you are going to have increased arrests you are going to have a difficult tension between our goal and the community's perception of what is happening to their community," Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Mike Herring said.

Still, several residents CBS 6 talked to said they want to see more police in the courts.

"When they patrol more the violence is down, but when they're absent that's when the violence happens more," Debra Laczko who lives in Mosby Court said.

But, Stoney, Chief Alfred Durham, Herring, and Somanath all admit those tactics only provide a short term solution.

"That is a band aid short term approach to the underlying system issues of what is going on in our communities,” Durham said. “We cannot do it alone, so am I frustrated yes, I am."

All the leaders said Richmond as a whole, from the housing projects to the more affluent West End, needs to work together to address the system issues related to poverty in the courts.

"In order to transform public housing as we know it we have to leverage the growth we've seen in the entire city for the greater good in all of our communities," Stoney said.

Growth that, while exciting for RVA, doesn't seem to touch the little boy on the bike or his dad.

"I just want a job, I want to see more work," the boy's dad said.

Dennis Danvers, who lives far from the crime hot spots in the Museum District, said he wants to see more affordable housing in fairly affluent neighborhoods like his.

"I would like to see more diversity in my neighborhood and an opportunity for people of modest means to make a go of it," Danvers said.

The mayor announced he will host a housing summit October 31 to work on a long-term public housing solution.