Smaller turnout for latest meeting between city leaders, public housing residents

WAVY-TV 10 Photo

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – City leaders hosted the third community meeting to address desires among public housing residents on Tuesday night.

Residents met inside the House of Prayer Church around 5:30 p.m., where they were broken into small groups and asked to weigh in on their quality of life. The crowd was much smaller than the first meeting, aimed at Tidewater Gardens residents.

The series of gatherings come just weeks after council shelved a proposal to demolish public housing neighborhoods and replace them with mixed-use developments.

“The council paused that process to allow all of you, all of our citizens to be heard,” said Mayor Kenny Alexander.

“That proposal was not equitable,” said Councilman Paul Riddick.

But Riddick said the neighborhoods will still, ultimately, be replaced. The process could take ten years or longer.

“Norfolk is gonna gentrify these properties,” he said. “But what we’re going to do as council is to make sure that everyone who has a place to live will have a place to live at the end.”

One resident told the crowd she is okay with demolition, but wants to be assured that the new housing options will be affordable.

But resident Brian Brooks, of Young Terrace, said he wants to stay put.

“We’ve got a beautiful neighborhood and we want to keep it, we want to save our community, we’ve got some good people in our community,” he said.

Brooks told 10 On Your Side the only change he wants to see is more security and police patrols.

Many residents discussed safety and an increased police presence as their top desires.

One woman said she wants to be somewhere where kids have opportunities to play and stay out of trouble.

“The children out there, all they know is to come together and fight and beat up on each other,” she said. “Who remembers how to jump rope? Who remembers how to hopscotch?… there’s none of that out there.”

Tuesday’s meeting was intended for residents in Calvert Square but people living elsewhere attended.

The city has scheduled three follow-up meetings:

  • Tidewater Gardens
    Saturday, August 19: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception
  • Young Terrace
    Thursday, August 24: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
    Community Center – 804 Whitaker Lane
  • Calvert Square
    Tuesday, August 29: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
    Family Investment Center – 900 Bagnall Road