How should Richmond fight its poverty problem?

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - There are no flowers blooming outside her home, no welcome mat at her front door.

“We are all trying to move. Everybody’s trying to get out,” Creighton Court Toshawn Webber said. Webber said the inside of her home has been relatively bare for several years. That is because the east Richmond public housing complex has been on the city's short list for demolition.

“You just have to be prepared," she said. "Just be ready to have everything to run. It's scary."

Poverty 01

Webber said she often sees construction cranes and crews working in the city and wonders if her neighborhood will be next. While she and her daughter work on a plan to get out of Creighton Court before they are forced out, Webber said she needed to make more money.

“I’m working and barely making it. So, I can’t go anywhere," she said. "I’m stuck here until I can actually make enough.”

Mayor promises to fight poverty

After he was elected Mayor of Richmond in both 2008 and 2012, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones promised to transform Richmond’s public housing into mixed-income neighborhoods, similar to other cities like Atlanta and Chicago.

He made those promises during his annual State of the City address.

“I want us to find tonight, a new and different approach,” Jones said during his 2013 speech.

However, it has been more than five years since Jones took office, and with a little more than two years remaining in his term, the city`s six large public housing neighborhoods are still intact.

We wanted to know if the mayor's bold plan is more talk than action, so we went to Richmond City Hall to question the mayor about what he is doing to fight poverty in Richmond.

Poverty 02

“People have paid lip service to it. We are not paying lip service to it,” Mayor Jones said in an exclusive interview.

He said by the end of his term, Creighton and Whitcomb Courts on the city’s East End would be torn down and transformed. Real estate developer TCB Development had already been brought on board to begin the work.

The mayor said it has taken this long to act because his Anti-Poverty Commission, appointed in 2011, has taken time to study the issue to form a plan of attack.

Jones said the city has run into problems with money from the federal government.

“We've applied for money and sometimes we're successful and sometimes we're not,” he said.

A complex problem

Richmond has the largest number of public housing units south of New York, with more than 10,000 residents making an average of $10,000 or less a year.

“We can't have just one stratum of people living in a neighborhood. It was a bad idea to put poor people in one place 50 years ago and it's a bad idea today,” Mayor Jones said.

Data shows public housing has become a permanent solution for many people.

More than a quarter of all public housing residents have lived there for at least 10 years. Some people have lived there more than 20 years.

Mayor Jones said the new housing he planned for the city will operate much differently. He said residents will be held to higher standards, including employment requirements and background checks, unlike the current system, where most who apply get in.

"As long as that system is there, then you' re going to have people who take advantage of that system," the mayor said. "When that system is no longer there, then you'll be able to separate the people who want to go higher and the people who don't want to go higher and it's going to be up to them.”

Attainable jobs

Residents like Webber said she'd like the mayor to focus on bringing more attainable jobs to the city, so she can qualify for this new housing.

She said she currently has to pay for transportation to get to her temporary job in Chesterfield County.

“He wants to see Richmond thrive, understood. We all do, but at what cost?” she asked.

Jones and Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority stress, no residents will be displaced because of this housing transformation. Some residents will be offered subsidized housing. There are a number of privately owned, high-end apartments in Richmond with units reserved for low-income tenants.


  • johnathon

    how about quit looking for a yourself,take care and teach your children,marry before having kids.just a few.stop looking to others to ‘help you”its getting old,ok

    • Cindy

      People have been saying that for years, it falls to deaf ears and ignorance! Baltimore, Detroit, Richmond….they all are infested with welfare recipients and of course lazy, uneducated people!

  • manalishi

    “similar to other cities like Atlanta and Chicago.”? What!!??? Jones want to transform Richmond from armpit to cesspool. Chicongo and Atlanta are not exactly model communities.

    The only thing these Failed cities have in common are that they are run by democrats that merely have to go dumpster diving to find their voter base.

  • C2

    This is Funny in a pathetic way.
    Democrats are admiting that all their overlapping local, state, federal, and party tax exempt/non-profits; receiving both tax advantages and
    tax payments, plus donations, to help party bolster party deficiencies,
    have ALL FAILED.
    Fifty years have repetitiously proven this over the last fifty years of “helping” at enormous Tax Burdens.
    Government programs like AA, EEO, Housing, Food, clothes,
    school assistance, etc. Poverty is rising, entitlement spending, rising
    and nothing seems to have worked, solved or remedied Poverty or
    to provide a hands up and out of poverty. Now firmly established and entrenched in society is a Government supported cradle to grave entitlement life style choice.
    They government feeds the programs on the backs of tax payers
    and recipients feed the party votes.
    The Great Hope of Promise/LIES that Changed ALL things for
    the Better:: Domestic Prosperity & Tranqulity of the “Divided States,
    World-Wide Peace, and ObamaCares; his own personal Law with
    personal tweaks for favorites and political positioning to hide from

  • josh

    As long as the negative, hateful values of the black hip hop, rap culture are propegated and the undertow of unappreciated entitlement are alive and well there are no solutions. The entire southeast region and the underlying, below the surface, racism is a sewer of disgusting rot. If the house is on fire, let the ……burn. Unless we all find empathy and love for all men, women and child. What was once is no longer here.

  • athynz

    Interesting that Jones made all of these promises and yet he spends all of his time and taxpayer money on pushing a stadium that he is scared to have put to a public vote as well as on a security detail that no other mayor has. Wake up people!

    • Mo Fiscal conservatism

      Athunz, it’s time that YOU wake up. Just because it’s the one thing on the internet that seems to get your panties in a twist, doesn’t make the stadium the only thing that the Mayor is handling. Also, with a little knowledge in economics, you will learn that the funding for public housing and for things like a stadium some from different places/budgets. It’s not just one big pool of money that he distributes as he sees fit. If you would like, we could have a sit-down and I can educate you on how the world really works. I’ll even do it for free. One less ignorant person with an attitude in the world, well that’s an accomplishment!!

      • athynz

        Let’s see – he will not fund schools or public housing but is hot and heavy on getting this stadium in without voter input. If this stadium is such a great economic idea then why can’t he simply state the facts, provide verification of those facts, and let the public decide? Why the shady backroom deals? As for the separate “pots” of money, sorry but we need to educate and house our children prior to having a stadium built and if it means taking money from the stadium budget or Jones’ security detail to do so then let’s do it.

        If you want to answer my questions in person that would be great. We’ll grab a brew or a coffee and have a conversation over it.

  • Joe

    Here’s how to do it…systemically wean people from entitlements such as public housing, welfare, snap, etc. Set up a schedule where benefits are reduced over a period of years where it no longer is comfortable to remain on the public dole.

    There needs to be a new structure built for qualifying and keeping benefits and these should be given only to those who have a documented need through a physician, social worker, etc. Guidelines should be tough and regularly audited to ensure those who are receiving benefits. There should be no perfectly healthy 20 and 30 year olds receiving public benefits. Bring back public work camps for those who can’t find a job to help restore the city’s infrastructure in exchange for assistance.

    The problem would get resolved in relatively very short time.

    • isso

      Yeah, Joe. But, never, ever, will irresponsible Democrats allow themselves to be less dependent on their use/bait of their
      irresponsible voter bases. It’s an I’ll do you if you do me sweet
      “deal” for mutual gratifications.

    • isso

      Yeah, Joe. But, never, ever, will irresponsible party deprive
      themselves and to be less dependent on their use/bait of their
      irresponsible voter bases. It’s an I’ll do you if you do me sweet
      “deal” for mutual gratifications.

    • Becky

      Yeah, Joe. But, never, ever, will irresponsible party deprive
      themselves to be less dependent on their use/bait of their
      irresponsible voter bases. It’s an I’ll do you if you do me sweet
      “deal” for mutual needs and gratifications.

  • jim

    Elect better public officals. The economy is still in bad shape, but this city could become an better place if we worked on essential things like roads, schools and projects that benefit everyone instead of ball fields. The city should focus on things that it can control like potholes, leaf pickup and street cleaning. These tasks if well done will provide jobs and encourage newcomers.

  • T Sweeney

    There are some sure fire ways to get poor and stay poor.

    1. Ladies, have children without a marriage to a responsible man who can help provide love, support and care. Besides, multiple boy friends and baby daddies without strings are easier to find.
    2. Ladies, have children you can’t afford, the city will provide.
    3. Gentlemen, continue to father as many children with as many women as possible to show how manly you are.
    4. Ladies, Gentlemen, enjoy drugs and alcohol… as frequently as you can. Make sure to do it openly as arrests provide for in-jail training.
    5. Spend whatever money you have on iPhones, big Samsung Galaxies, $300 tennis shoes and designer clothes.
    6. You can’t have too many video games.
    7. Big screen TV is a got to have.
    8. Forget actually raising your kids, that’s for TV, the street and the schools are for.
    9. Schools, stay in Richmond Public Schools, they are the best of the best for the rest.
    10. Church… stay away from it, nothing but telling you all the things you should be doing.

    And last but not least, look to government to solve your every need.
    Particularly Democrats, who love your dependency.

  • Glen Allen

    The best ticket out of poverty is obtained by having a loving and supportive family, and a decent education. While the role of government is limited in what it can do to provide a child with a loving and supportive family, it most certainly can provide a decent education, and that seems to be lacking in Richmond. Money can (and should) fix the dilapidated buildings, and buy up to date learning equipment (computers, software, etc.), but it would appear some higher standards may be in order for qualifying teachers and administrators. I don’t know that the teachers and administrators are not the best available, but I doubt the scores and low graduation are exactly reflective of an overall quality staff.

  • Angela

    A lot of people in public housing work and finished high school also have some college education. Some of images people have are stereotype.

  • Angela

    People in public housing that work are the working poor.You work but just can’t get ahead or barely making.When you live in public housing your rent is based on income so more you make the more you paid can’t really save because they get it. Only way to have something is to hide money to the side because the way I see it they don’t want you to have nothing.People in public housing have paid electric fee and maintenance that added to rent we are not living ghetto fabulous I know I’m not.

      • Angela

        Yes I can Sammy I am not getting no entitlement. If you don’t know what you talking about shut up! You are small minded and looking at too much TV that you get your images.Everybody situation is different I can’t help that some people make it look bad with there bad way of living but that not all of us.

    • manalishi

      S the answer is real paying jobs. but they were exported to a better tax structured state,,,or country. Again, this is a democrat problem.

  • Angela

    There always going to be the have and have not this how Richmond is there is no middle class.Don’t nobody want someone living next to them that have less.I suggest that they clean up public housing make it livable and beautiful.Have people that care where they live at if don’t throw them out stop letting trashy people stay there don’t deserves a home because a lot people would like somewhere to live.I just hope and pray someone in higher office position read this .

  • Angela

    There are people that get food stamps,snap,welfare &wic that don’t live in public housing so stop making us look like we are under class.

  • Angela

    Also have good bus transportation so people can go to work and get good paying jobs so they cam get out of poverty.

    • Mo Fiscal conservatism

      Latosha, we have a black President of the United States. I think you are the racist one.
      People (not just black people) can’t get jobs because they are uneducated, they have children they can’t afford and keep them from working certain schedules, they have criminal records or drug/alcohol problems and the like. While there aren’t great jobs out there for everyone, there are jobs. It just takes some sacrifice and making it happen. Stop blaming everyone else for how your life turned out!

    • athynz

      April 30, 2014 at 2:58 am

      Because. Racists. Then again I suspect that not only can you spell and form coherent sentences you are not a black woman as you claim. Are you David as manalishi claims or a new troll come to play here?

  • Joe

    ““We can’t have just one stratum of people living in a neighborhood. It was a bad idea to put poor people in one place 50 years ago and it’s a bad idea today,” Mayor Jones said.”

    No, it’s a good idea. There was one rental near my home, it went a while without a tenant, so the owner allowed section 8 residents to move in. The first few had the cops there weekly. After they moved out, a new family moved in. Their kids would walk around the neighborhood screaming (fine, they’re kids), no adults in sight. A short time later the son shot the mother’s boyfriend through the bedroom window (it’s a story you guys covered).

    So, please, for the love of all things sacred, please end HUD. End Section 8. End public housing units. Please don’t further devalue neighborhoods by admitting the entrance of people with no goals in life.

    • Angela

      So if those kind of people mess up the neighborhood where you suggest they live since you don’t want them near you Live on the street rob people like you
      It the renter fault check out who you rent too and putting people in one stereotype.

      • Joe

        They wouldn’t rob me and live.

        I refuse to allow my feelings to succumb to fear on the rational that someone will take from me what I have earned.

        Go ahead and try. I’d rather be judged by twelve. The other guy/gal will be carried by six.

  • manlishi

    WTVR = home of the white trash viewer….No point in feeding into the comments here. They can’t handle an intelligent conversation about social issues. Truth hurts.

    • manalishi

      All they do is come on this site day in and day out and troll. Good thing none of their opinions matter. None of the things that are said hold any weight.

      • manalishi

        Guess the schiz meds worn off…Not sure who David is but I’m sure Latosha is a white person pretending to be black for laughs….so corny, let the truth speak for itself.

        White people need to stop speaking on black issues you would never understand. Not saying that poverty is a black issue, but lets face it, the majority of people in Richmond projects are black and this story is about Richmond projects. Worry about why you kids end up being mass murderers, serial killers, and committing suicide when they lose a job because they can’t handle hardships, and the gothic culture and the satanic punk rock, hard metal music…..

  • manalishi

    worry about honey boo boo and the trailer parks, worry about your family members on meth, worry about your daughter’s lice, worry about lindsay lohan

      • Joe

        You two should really stop deflecting, it’s rather telling.

        In regards to popular television characters, there’s a reason I haven’t watched any kind of television for the last several years.

        If I had a family member on meth? Good luck to them, their problem is their own, just as your problems are your own.

        What can you come back with? What if something happens to me? I’ll do the same thing I’ve done every time I’ve been between jobs, homes, love lives, etc. I’ll overcome. It’s a shame that you sell yourself short, or blame others for your own plight.

  • Angela

    This is to Joe I work and earned my money .I am not using fear to get a message across but you didn’t answer the question.Where do you want low income people to live because we do work no welfare or food stamps. When open up your big mouth come up with some solutions okay know it .

    • Joe


      You work? Great! Now, find 4-5 other like minded individuals. Let’s say you make less than the min wage. A full time job will net you ~14K/yr. 4 more people? Great! Now your purchasing power is 70K/yr. Buy a lot of land, and a trailer. Buy a house. Buy several used cars, costing between 2-3K each (plenty of Toyota’s and Honda’s in that range).

      Will it be odd living with 4 other adults? Maybe to you! But not to others. Share a car. Share a ride into work.

      “Don’t comment tired of white man bull.”

      So, I shouldn’t speak because my opinion differs from your own? I just gave you an out to your proclaimed situation. I’m wagering you know more than 4 people. Can’t find full time work? Work two part time jobs. I’ve worked three jobs at once before (one was a single shift on a Saturday morning, no cartoons for yours truly).

      Regarding your latter comment:

      I’m not a down on my luck guy. I’ve worked for everything I have. I have no four year degree from any university. I have no two year degree from any local college. The difference is, I applied myself. I have a house. I have a wife. I have two wonderful children. Because I tried. I didn’t blame anyone else, or wait for anyone else to tell me how to live my life, or solve my problems for me.


      Stop blaming others, it doesn’t benefit you.

      • Joe

        Also, before you suggest that my wife brings home the bacon…it’s quite the contrary. She’s a stay at home mother. I bring home the bacon, she cooks it.

      • Angela

        I work earn everything I got.So what you saying is stupid.No one say nothing about blame.I know you think you got the solution but where you going to find people to pull together because everyone about self.I talk about race because you where stereotyping.White people live in public housing too.Let talk about degree there are people that have 4 year degree but can’t find a job in there field or have transportation. I work a career job okay but you have to start at the bottom work way up that what I doing.One more thing about low income housing lot of people are elderly or disable so where supposed to go because alot of them don’t have family

  • Angela

    Joe your self is telling. You sound like down on your luck guy don’t have no more time waste on you just a white man that think you are better.I am tired of this issue just keep on working.Don’t comment tired of white man bull.

  • manalishi

    Telling of what? You can make up whatever you want to think of me and it doesn’t change who I am. Whatever you’re thinking, you’re not even close. Your closed mind won’t allow it. Anyway, I am in no way deflecting. You all just need to stop trying to put all black people in a box. Would I be right to claim all white people live in trailers? I know the root of this poverty is deeper than the shallow people commenting on the subject.

    My point is we all have issues whether we’re black, white or somewhere in between so people need to stop judging based on stereptypes and talking about what they dont have a clue about if they’re not contributing to a solution or making sound comments. Black and white people are poor, rich, stupid, smart, honest citizens, take advantage of the system, employed, unemployed, married, unmarried, kids from marriage, kids out of wedlock,criminals, etc.

    • Joe

      Know what’s odd? The only people to actually mention any race…Angela and manalishi.

      Who’s closed minded again?

      • manalishi

        Joe,,,in case you haven’t noticed, there seems to be a couple extra manalishis on this and other pages.

  • Belsma

    Don’t feed the trolls folks.
    People cannot be helped unless they want to help themselves. Is there a welfare to work program in Richmond or what about a computer corp program to teach people job/computer skills? I think those would be good programs to spend money on for those who really want to utilize them.

  • Glen Allen

    I think we are wondering off the topic, the point of this article seems to be that the Mayor promised to do something and he has failed to do it. Most people can tell by following the Mayors widely known priorities, that fighting poverty is of no concern to him. It is clear that the Mayor could care less about the citizens of Richmond. Those folks that are classify as living in poverty, are in the preacher-mayor’s way. His method of fighting poverty is to push the poor out of the City, and therefore reducing the number of City residents classified as living in poverty. How many low income apartments do you think there are proposed for the baseball stadium project?
    This Mayor is here to help only himself, and his wealthy investor/developer friends, he could care less if you look like him. What can you do about it? Absolutely nothing, he will continue to rip you off until something better comes along. He was voted into office not once, but twice.

  • Carol

    The Mayor is a cheat & a liar !! Wasn’t he supposed to be a preacher ?? Anyway, these girls need to keep their legs closed to boys who can’t & won’t do for themselves let alone kids. There are generations of families that live for what they think they can get free & believe their living the good life. Sad!! They wonder why they can’t get out of the “ghetto”

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