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A Mix of Housing Is Key to Success

Kudos to Chris Dovi and Scott Bass for their insightful article on tax abatement and gentrification of Richmond's neighborhoods ("There Goes the 'Hood," Cover Story, April 11.) There are a few points that warrant clarification though.

The revitalization of the former Park Lee Apartments into Winchester Greens by Better Housing Coalition (BHC) did not force anyone to leave. In fact, BHC went to extraordinary lengths to accommodate the housing needs of existing Park Lee residents by redeveloping the property in phases to avoid the need to displace residents and by arranging for all existing residents, 220 families in 1999, to receive a housing choice voucher that allowed them to stay or move at their option.

Approximately 50 percent elected to stay at Winchester Greens, and the other half chose to use their voucher to rent housing elsewhere. Eight years later, approximately 75 of those original resident households still live in the Winchester Greens community. The residents were involved in each step of the process and with their guidance new lease standards were established.

The reporters make no mention of the use of the tax-abatement program that helps low- to moderate-income buyers afford their first home. Many of the properties developed by Better Housing Coalition qualify for the program, and this savings can reduce the monthly payment by $100 or more.

Better Housing Coalition shares the concern about displacement of the poor, but the tax-abatement program is not the cause. The answer is making sure there is an adequate mix of affordable housing across the region.

Lynn McAteer
Better Housing Coalition

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