Richmond makes changes to tax program, pushes for more affordable housing

Richmond makes changes to tax program, pushes for more affordable housing

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond City Council is saying no more tax breaks for major commercial developments. Instead, the council says it wants to shift the focus to affordable housing.

On Monday, councilors voted to end the “citywide rehabilitation program.”

“We’ve allowed for this city to be gentrified with taxpayer dollars,” Councilor Mike Jones said.

That current program gives developers a 10-year tax break in an effort to boost investment in the city.

Scott's Addition and developments in Manchester are prime examples of projects done under that program.

“There’s a lot of good things happening from the real estate development perspective in the city and much of that is attributable to this program existing,” Preston Lloyd, Home Builders Association of Richmond Legislative Counsel, said.

The new “affordable housing rehabilitation program” will give developers an incentive to create projects that contain at least 30 percent affordable housing and give those developers at 15-year tax break.

“Our next major crisis really is housing. Is making sure that we have affordable housing in a city that is 26 percent, we have a 26 percent poverty rate. Where are people going to live?” Jones said.

But developers hope a better balance can be struck.

“We want to make sure that this doesn’t inadvertently, kneecap some of the great momentum that’s been made in bringing new investment and redevelopment to the city,” Lloyd said.

Now, the staff at Richmond City Hall will work on tweaking the language in that ordinance before it goes into effect on July 1, 2020.

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