NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA) and the city are working together to improve housing and services to areas of Norfolk stricken by poverty.
They are considering a plan that would demolish three public housing communities near Downtown Norfolk.
The NRHA unanimously approved the Cooperation Agreement for St. Paul’s Area Redevelopment Thursday. The measure goes to city council which is scheduled to vote on the agreement on July 18.
The agreement states that Young Terrace, Calvert Square, and Tidewater Gardens would be demolished and replaced with mixed-income housing. The redevelopment of the area will include homes and providing better services, including health and employment, to the community.
People who live in the area will be included in the effort as it moves forward, with the city an NRHA asking them what they want to see in their community.
“When there is mixed-income neighborhoods, the neighborhoods are stronger and the people are able to live together and work together and be productive citizens,” said NRHA Board Chair Barbara Hamm Lee.
According to the agreement, Young Terrace, Calvert Square and Tidewater Gardens “provide housing for families, mostly with extremely low household incomes.” Concentrated poverty “prevents these families from reaching economic empowerment and self-sufficiency.”
“We want to work with the residents so we can make sure that everyone into a neighborhood where they’re comfortable, where they can thrive and where they can have a positive experience,” said Hamm Lee.
Norfolk Councilman Paul Riddick voiced his concerns about the agreement.
“What is going to be attempted, is gentrification,” said Riddick. “Norfolk is trying to get out of the public housing business.”
Lee said the goal is to “deconcentrate poverty” and NRHA will offer vouchers and services to help residents relocate or stay in the neighborhood.
“If someone actually wants to stay right here we will make sure that happens for them,” said Lee. “They would be able to afford it...because their rent would not change.”
Riddick disagreed and said the real motivation behind the agreement is to replace the housing communities with downtown developments.
“Now, the housing authority talks a good game, but I just don’t trust the results,” said Riddick. “The housing authority of Norfolk are telling a certain group of people you have to fend for yourself.”
If City Council approves the agreement, demolition could begin as early as Fall 2018.
Below is a breakdown for the number of households and people within the three communities:
- Tidewater Gardens – 618 total units – 1,659 total household members
- Adults – 735
- Youth – 924
- Young Terrace – 746 total units – 1,761 total household members
- Adults – 857
- Youth – 904
- Calvert Square – 310 total units – 737 total household members
- Adults – 357
- Youth – 380