With one in five residents living in poverty, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced Friday a commission that will be charged with identifying strategies for increasing employment, educational achievement, access to transportation and healthy communities.
“We’ve got to do something because we’re living in a difficult time, a global community where we’ve got to promote economic parity and social justice,” he told an audience at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jones announced his commission at a program sponsored by Hope in the Cities and the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.
As part of the program, John V. Moeser, a senior fellow at the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond, presented census and other data to spotlight the longstanding concentrations of poor residents in Richmond, as well as some of their causes, plus the pockets that are emerging in the older suburbs around the city.
Moeser said the city’s concentrations of poverty disproportionately affect blacks and remain “deep canyons in the social landscape” as a result of the Civil War and public policies and private practices that were later outlawed through the civil-rights movement.
To begin to address the issues, Moeser called for the creation of multiracial coalitions to press for “concrete measures that break up high-density poverty through mixed-income, mixed-use development in every locality.”
“Ultimately, what we need to do together — all of us — is to build not so much a great city but a good city,” he said. “Actually, building good cities needs to happen across our nation. But why not start here, where the greatest of all national tragedies — the slave trade and the Civil War — were played out at such enormous human cost?”
Jones said his commission represents a first step in addressing a problem that has plagued Richmond for decades…