Richmond Wary Of Mayors Antipoverty Plan

VA_Mayor_antipoverty_2013RICHMOND, Va. — Dressed on an unseasonably warm day, as ever, in a tailored suit, tie and pocket square, Mayor Dwight C. Jones, a fourth-generation pastor, arrived at a late-afternoon meeting this month to talk about his ambitious — some say quixotic — plan to subdue poverty in this city, once the capital of the Confederacy and now one of the nation’s poorest urban areas.

The plan, on which he is staking both his political capital and legacy, has the general support of the City Council but is making others jittery, rich and poor alike.

Emphasizing programs the city can afford on its $760 million budget, Richmond is considering pairing every at-risk child ages 11 to 15 with an adult mentor; razing public housing and replacing it with mixed-income units with the option of home ownership; setting up an intensive manufacturing training program that would give the unemployed the skills needed to work at one of the many local companies looking for workers; starting a farm-to-school program to promote adequate nutrition; and establishing an assistance program to help pay water and waste water bills for low-income households.

Mr. Jones is at pains to emphasize that the ambitious antipoverty plan is no theoretical exercise — even with limited resources, a corporate community that has yet to give the initiative a public embrace, and a portion of the black population, which makes up the vast majority of the poor in Richmond, that also remains skeptical.

Source: NY Times