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Thousands approved to help 'worst living conditions' in Richmond. Why hasn't it been spent?

Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 20, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Catarino Salvez Galvez and his family have lived in a mobile home park on Richmond's Southside for six years.

The home he owns currently is falling apart.

The floor has sunken in, the roof caved, and it has cracked in multiple places.

The windows do not close, keeping it cold during the winter and swelteringly hot during the summer months.

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His 11-year-old daughter has been sick because of the conditions, he said.

"I don't feel good sharing it, I don't want to share the conditions I'm living in," Galvez said.

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It's a reality for many of his neighbors who own trailers in his neighborhood but cannot afford to fix them.

"It's bad conditions. I don't have money to buy a better trailer. I live there with my son. It has the only source of affordable housing that I could find," Paulina Chavez.

"The living conditions there are some of the worst we have in the city of Richmond," Martin Wegbreit, with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, said.

Richmond City Council approved a $300,000 repair and replacement program in its FY2023 budget for residents like Chavez and Galvez.

But that program never started.

"The money has not been appropriated. The money has never been spent," Wegbreit said,

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's proposed budget for FY24 adds an additional $500,000 to the established program, but as a revolving loan program.

A spokesperson from the City sent this statement in an email to CBS 6:

The City has not issued any Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the FY23 $300,000 Mobile Home Demonstration Program funding yet because the City Administration has been working with Councilwoman Trammell to create an equitable strategy to reach all of the mobile home park (MHP) residents and owners so that the city can share and discuss the nature of the demonstration program.

This outreach effort will begin this spring.

The Administration’s goal is to combine the FY23 $300,000 with the proposed FY24 $500,000 to have $800,000 of funding available effective July 1 , 2023.

The Administration plans to issue a NOFA to contract with an experienced non-profit to work with eligible MHP residents (households whose household income is 80% of AMI or less) to assist then in purchasing a new manufactured home and to install it on a vacant pad site.

This assistance will include purchasing the manufactured home for them, getting it delivered to the pad site and helping the MHP resident obtain traditional home mortgage financing.

To make a new manufactured home affordable to an eligible MHP resident most likely will require additional down payment assistance from the City.

So while the program will be a revolving loan program (i.e., the mortgage that an eligible MHP resident takes out to purchase the new manufactured home maybe be less than what it costs the non-profit organization that purchased and installed it, that mortgage loan payment will go back to the non-profit into the MH fund to purchase homes for additional households.

If a MHP resident’s home needs minor repairs, then they can apply through one of our non-profit partners for the City’s rehab funding (HUD HOME Program funds) that allows up to $8,000.00 for repairs to MHs.

Chavez says she's skeptical.

"We are hoping to use this money to fix our trailer. We are not going to be able to pay money after with the loan agreement.

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