I believe we must adopt a resident-driven redevelopment process that focuses on the 1-to-1 brick and mortar replacement of public housing. Creating a resident board with voting and veto power over proposed plans establishes a level of transparency, partnership, and democratizing of their neighborhoods' future. City Council must step up and exercise its authority over RRHA and the board to prioritize the future of public housing and affordable housing in Richmond. Quarterly updates by RRHA leadership and the board to City Council on the status of repairs, development projects, and other relevant priorities will keep progress front and center, transparent, and public. Securing enough funding is critical, and we can't do it alone. We will need to advocate on the Federal level for more funding. HUD funding for public housing communities has been consistently decreasing for decades, even though we need increased investment more than ever.
City Council holds the power to allocate money in the budget. Therefore, we have the responsibility to adequately fund RPS so that our students, teachers, and staff have the support they need and deserve to be successful. RPS and the School Board may be responsible for identifying our school system's most pressing needs. Still, Councilmembers should be ready to collaborate with their counterparts on the School Board and with the Superintendent to ensure that our students have the best and most tailored resources at their disposal. I am proud of the work 1st District School Board Representative Liz Doerr, and I have done together to support 1st District RPS families and students citywide. We have made a point to host monthly 1st District meetings jointly to show 1st District residents that they have a team fighting for their children and teachers every day in City Hall.
I believe that constructive after-school options must be a part of a child's education for that education to be considered acceptable. I recently had the pleasure of celebrating the establishment of NextUp after school programming at Albert Hill Middle School. I have been watching and learning for years about the benefits of educational after school activities in schools across Richmond. I was proud to work with the Albert Hill MS administration, Liz Doerr, and our partners at NextUp allow our students to benefit from their programs. The city, RPS, and nonprofits should continue to work together to expand after school options for Richmond students who currently lack them.
We have to work more closely with our General Assembly delegation in Richmond and across the region. As I mentioned before, I have been working with my General Assembly colleagues for the past three years to establish the CVTA, grant Richmond land-value taxation authority, among other policy changes. For instance, this past year, I used my platform as a member of Virginia First Cities to raise the issue of rising school construction costs. Every locality has to build schools, and we all struggle to fund them. So, I partnered with the Richmond delegation tointroduce and pass SB 888, which established the Commission on School Construction and Modernization to provide guidance and resources to local school divisions related to school construction and modernization and make funding recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. I am now Vice-Chair of Virginia First Cities, and I look forward to forming even stronger partnerships with my colleagues across the Commonwealth to support Richmond and all our independent cities' needs.
I am now working to transform Richmond's budget by implementing a participatory budgeting process and creating OpenBudgetRVA.com. Both of these reforms will make the city's budget easier for Richmonders to understand, hold City Hall accountable, see where our dollars are spent and empower us to fund the projects we want to see done. OpenBudgetRVA.com would be modeled after OpenBudgetOakland, which creates user-friendly data visualizations so that every resident can understand where city revenues come from and how they are spent.
Housing is a top concern when addressing economic equity. In the short-term, we should look to expand the funding and capacity of our Eviction Diversion Program. We should work with the General Assembly to establish a right to counsel for all tenants subject to unlawful detainer suits, mirroring the policy adopted in New York City and other cities in recent years.
To stem the tide of evictions in Richmond and address our burgeoning affordability crisis, we must, at the very least, adopt and work with our regional partners to fully implement the Partnership for Housing Affordability's Regional Housing Framework. This framework was developed after years of research and community engagement and provides a portfolio of policy solutions to mitigate our burgeoning housing affordability crisis in our region. I have supported this process from the beginning.
I look forward to collaborating with the City Administration and the Partnership for Housing Affordability towards achieving the goals outlined in this framework. A brief description of Richmond's specific decisions are below and on PHA's website. https://pharva.com/framework/
To address systemic racism, we need to reimagine policing to better recruit, train, and retain police officers; build trust between law enforcement and Richmond communities, and ensure equal justice under the law. We can accomplish these goals by thinking creatively about how to best use our police resources, institute police oversight measures, and make RPD more transparent.
There are too many situations where we ask the police to respond to concerns they were neither trained to do nor provide the needed services. The tragic death of Marcus-David Peters is a lesson we should not have had to have. We must meet non-life-threatening crises with trained professionals and the resources to provide the best solution. By reducing the response to non-life-threatening situations, we can improve police recruitment, training, and community relations. We can then provide police with the resources they need to protect Richmonders best, rather than by asking them to fill our social services roles. We need police focused on keeping our city safe and fighting crime.
Other reforms are necessary to ensure that Richmonders trust the police and that all Richmonders are treated equally by law enforcement. I supported creating an independent Civilian Review Board with subpoena power to oversee police operations and ensure accountability. The Richmond Police Department should also release its "Use of Force" policy to the public, publicly release explanations for each use of non-lethal force used against protestors, and release how RPD determines a protest becomes "unlawful."
I am committed to these changes and will sustain them as best I can. Each of these reforms have constituencies who are dedicated to seeing them through, and I can help fuel these movements by showing up, entering a dialogue, and taking action with these groups as partners.