Here are my responses to the Public Housing Association of Residents Questionnaire.
I firmly believe that this is one of the most important community groups in Charlottesville and I am happy and proud to say that I have been able to spend a lot of time in public housing neighborhoods throughout the campaign, and will continue to remain involved well beyond November 8th.
1. The Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment ensures meaningful resident participation, preserves the current stock of affordable housing
for low-income people and promotes family stability. It was adopted by City Council on December 15, 2008. If you had been a Councilor at that
time, would you have voted for the Residents Bill of Rights for Redevelopment as presented? Why or why not?
I absolutely would have voted for the Residents Bill of Rights if I had been given the chance. I was in attendance at the meeting that passed the Bill of Rights and proudly stood to show my support. The concept of respecting the desires and needs of residents is extremely important. Having a document that commits the council to addressing and adhering to the concerns and requirements of actual residents gives people a foundation to be able to hold council accountable. I hope that all city councilors will respect and adhere to the Residents Bill of Rights without having to be reminded!
2. Do you pledge to honor and uphold the Residents Bill of Rights while
in office? Why or why not?
Absolutely, this is too important of an issue for our residents to not be included, or to leave them in a situation where the worst outcome for redevelopment would be achieved. I hope that the PHAR and the City Council will not be afraid to add to the residents bill of rights as redevelopment proceeds.
3. What specific steps will you take to ensure that residents remain engaged in the decision-making about redevelopment, and that the process
remains responsive to and reflective of resident input?
I would like to see the process under direct control of PHAR, with all decisions regarding redevelopment, or other decisions pertaining to public housing neighborhoods being approved directly by residents. I would suggest weekly meetings, in public housing neighborhoods, including residents, CRHA, and city councilors. The more we can put decision making in the hands of residents, the more likely we will be to have a process that benefits everyone.
4. In appointing members to the CRHA Board of Commissioners, what criteria will you use? Will you insist on selecting Commissioners who will
prioritize effective maintenance and management of our existing public housing while planning for future redevelopment of our neighborhoods?
I support appointing a CRHA made up entirely, or mostly, of residents of public housing. I will not support the appointment of developers, or those interested in housing that would further an agenda other than that of the residents of public housing. We need commissioners who are connected to the neighborhoods, and who can anticipate some of the needs, problems, and good ideas from the neighborhoods, and who understand that their main job is effective, and respectful, maintenance, management, and future use of public housing.
5. Under Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Act of 1968, public housing residents are supposed to receive priority access to jobs
and contracting opportunities created by HUD financial assistance (such as redevelopment). If you are elected, how will you seek to implement Section
3 in Charlottesville?
A section 3 coordinator has been created in Charlottesville. This is a great first step. I am concerned that the position has been filled with no resident input into the process or the decision on who to hire. I hope that ignoring the residents is not going to continue. I would like to see the best possible start to the new position. This means including residents at every step, and frequent meetings between PHAR and the coordinator. I see a lot of potential in the coordinator’s office for expansion of opportunities for residents, and expansion into other contracts and employment beyond just those coming from HUD funding. Council and PHAR need to be directly engaged with this new position in order to ensure that it is a success.
6. Raising high school graduation rates benefits the entire community. What will you do as a City Councilor to improve educational success for
I believe that the council’s role in education is primarily to strengthen the financial situation of all of our families and neighborhoods. Good jobs at decent wages, that don’t put undue burdens on parents is a good start. I would like to see a city where all residents have access to work, better options for moving up the housing ladder, and better public transportation. Council will need to bolster funding for the schools in the face of cuts from the state government. I believe that the school board should set the educational agenda, but that the council should play a part in offering vision in how to address graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. I would like to see more funding from council for programs that offer more affordable access for young people to participate in artistic, cultural, and athletic activities that bolster and improve student’s development outside of the schools. I hope to expand the college scholarship program.
7. Please describe the nature of your experiences with low-income people in Charlottesville, and explain why public housing residents and their
allies should support you for City Council.
I am low income, and have lived in Charlottesville my entire life. I have faced many of the same personal and economic challenges as other low wealth people in town have. I work part-time in a restaurant, and struggle to pay rent and bills. I have dedicated my life to activism centered around transforming society into one that respects the needs of human beings over other interests. I work hard for social and economic justice and that is why I am running for council, I have made these issues priorities for my campaign and will continue to do so as a councilor. I believe that our residents can be more involved in decision making that directly affects them and support more forms of inclusive participation from all residents of Charlottesville.