Neighborhood Beautification Working Group
In the RVA Thrives geographic area along the Jefferson Davis Corridor, 12 percent of residential properties are vacant. Only 31% of residents own their homes. Most people rent, and nearly half the population (48%) spends more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage, a threshold above which financial stability is seriously threatened.
Among people on the corridor who make less than $20,000 a year, 88% spend thirty percent or more on housing.
For every household with income above $100,000, there are seven households with income below $25,000.
With these economic pressures, it is no wonder that housing is unstable; in the last year, 24% of people living along the corridor moved, compared to 20% in the City and only 15% in the state.
The 2018 Community Listening Process surveyed 300 people who live along the Jefferson Davis Corridor.
Most respondents said paying for housing is harder in the last two years (30%), while 28% say paying for housing has always been hard, but it has not gotten any harder in the last two years.
Of those that indicated paying for housing has gotten harder in the last two years:
37% said they are paying more for rent but their apartment size hasn’t changed
18% said they’ve moved into a smaller or lower quality apartment to afford rent
25% said their property taxes are increasing
When asked about the changes happening in Manchester and what they felt was most important to preserve along the JDC, respondents were evenly split. Ensuring current community members can still afford to live here, and that they still have a voice during and after the changes were the most frequent answer (22%). This was followed by history and culture, and other, both at 21%.
The Neighborhood Beautification Working Group started by hosing four community clean-up days in 2018. At the first clean-up day, neighbors collected 1.6 tons of trash!
In October 2018, the working group held a summit on housing, called Just Gentrification? which featured a panel and gave neighbors a chance to share their stories with housing affordability and gentrification.
Going forward, the Neighborhood Beautification working group will continue to have clean-up days and educational forums, through which they will craft an agenda for housing policy change.
In 2019, RVA Thrives’ goals around housing are: 1) increase awareness of gentrification and housing affordability policies/practices among JDC neighbors.; 2) organize neighbors around a policy or practice they feel needs to change; 3) amplify neighbor voices to public officials, developers, and other stakeholders; 4) as available, connect neighbors with service providers that can help them stay in their homes.
The project will be successful if at the end of 2019, neighbors along the Jefferson Davis Corridor have a deeper understanding of gentrification and housing affordability policies/practices; are being heard when they speak up about their concerns; and are invited to the table in making decisions about how to revitalize their community.