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Mayor Stoney: Richmond public housing represents institutional racism

RICHMOND, Va. -- City leaders and housing-focused groups met Tuesday at Virginia Union University to discuss affordable housing and community development in Richmond. The goal of the summit was to find a way to redevelop Richmond public housing.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said housing inequality in Richmond did not happen by mistake. He said it was the result of decades of institutional racism.

"The folks who live in Creighton Court, Mosby Court, they experience it every single day. So we unfortunately have inherited it. Systematic disenfranchisement of a number of our residents," Mayor Stoney said. "So now the burden is on us to chart the new direction in the City of Richmond."

Stoney said redeveloping Richmond public housing is a top priority, as violence in those communities spiked.

He said Richmond could not flourish until everyone in the city had an equal opportunity to be successful.

During the summit, people were split into groups and tasked with answering different questions and brainstorming ways to change public housing. Organizers say they wanted to bring a diverse group together. That group included city leaders, developers, nonprofit workers, members of faith communities, corporate representatives, and people who live in public housing communities.

Laura Lafayette, the CEO of Richmond Association of Realtors, helped organize the event.

"We recognize that this is going to cost a lot of money, that we need to find that money locally. And then we need to commit to a 20-30 year program."