Study Cites Lack of Affordable Housing in Area

After Venita Walker pays the rent and utilities on her modest, three-bedroom brick house in South Richmond, she barely has enough money to make it through the month.

Walker, a teacher’s aide who also works three days a week for AmeriCorps, spends almost half her income on the roughly $1,150 a month it costs to stay in the house and keep the lights and water on. So she pinches pennies any way she can, noting on the calendars she uses to track her finances when she can give blood in exchange for a free oil change or swing by a food pantry for help making it to her next paycheck.

“Constantly it’s a balancing act to be able to afford, and hoping that no crisis arises,” Walker said.

Walker is among the roughly one in three households across the region paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing, caused by a severe shortage of affordable places to live, according to a recent study. The problem has direct ties to Richmond’s legacy of racial segregation and has resulted in less diverse neighborhoods than ever before. And it’s leading to calls for regional solutions.