Official Response to Article by Reporter Michael Paul Williams

Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s response to Richmond Times-Dispatch article—“Williams: RRHA is sharing its boss with another city. It’s a symptom of the rot infecting public housing in Richmond.” published on May 22, 2020.

Mr. Williams –

As a professional journalist, it is incumbent upon you to be accurate, fair and balanced in your reporting Whatever personal issues you may have with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) or its leadership has no place in and should NOT be a part of your reporting.

RRHA takes strong issue with the tone and the overall misrepresentation of your reporting in the above article.

Chief Executive Officers of RRHA have come and gone. We are aware of this, but to equate the entire agency of hard working, consistent and reliable employees as belonging to an agency of “rot” is unconscionable. Our work continues.

Here are some bullet points that speak to the soundness of RRHA that you may not be aware of:

High Performing

  • RRHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program is a high performer for the last two years. This means that our work has been recognized by the agencies that we are responsible for reporting
  • Significant decrease in vacancies within public housing units in 2019. Seventy seven percent (77%) increase in applicants referred to public housing. In simple terms, 77 % of Richmond families who applied have housing because of the work of RRHA’s HCVP office.
  • Ninety nine percent (99%) overall pass rate by Low Income Public Housing management and maintenance staff in nationally accredited industry training program.
  • Successful passing scores on two back to back US Department of Housing and Urban Development Real Estate Assessment Center inspections within six-month period.

Financially Stable

  • Successful completion of financial audits since 1997 underscoring the financial stability of the Agency.
  • RRHA has continued to move the Agency forward by independently seeking and securing development partners for revitalization projects such as Creighton Court, Highland Grove, Mosby South and others.
  • Currently RRHA is assisting 92 families through our five (5) year Family Self Sufficiency Program (FSS).
  • In 2019, seven (7) families graduated from the FSS program and now have the ability to move out of low-income public housing and take charge of their own destiny without public assistance.
  • Graduation Rates & Scholarship Recipients: In 2019 seven (7) students from public housing communities graduated from: Brigham Young, Georgetown, Virginia State, Virginia Union, Old Dominion and two from James Madison. This year in 2020, six (6) students from RRHA communities competed against other students across the state to receive VAHCDO (Virginia Association of Housing and Community Development Officials) scholarships. These students will go on to attend notable colleges and universities.

These limited examples, sir, (there are many more) are not examples of an agency of “rot,” are not examples of an agency that is poorly run, are not examples of an agency that is wandering aimlessly without direction or purpose. But, are a testament of the diligence and commitment of the RRHA employees.

Those few examples are indicative of an agency that is moving forward in spite of our challenges and in spite of the negative perception fomented by articles like the one you penned.

What impact do you think your reporting has on the men and women who come to work each day to serve some of the most vulnerable in our communities? Perhaps you don’t care. But this is RRHA’s business – why we exist. Our livelihood. Our passion.

The misuse of your ability to “turn a phrase” has far reaching impacts not only to employee morale, but the Agency’s name, brand and perception within the community we serve, within the housing industry, among those that we have to conduct business with, within our own families, potential employees/employers, and other stakeholders.

The negative perception that your writing has on our ability to conduct business in an optimistic environment and in the minds and hearts of our employees, stakeholders, and our residents cannot be overstated.

Do we have issues as an agency? Absolutely we do. But to categorize and paint the entire agency as rotten, is highly inaccurate and categorically wrong.

Please stop your gross mischaracterization of RRHA.