“10% of Negroes In City Evicted For Projects” (May 19, 1957)


This article published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on May 19, 1957, reports on the displacement of 10 percent of the city’s Black residents and the resulting housing shortage due to the city’s road-building and urban renewal projects. Many of the city’s displaced residents were shunted to public housing projects isolated from white neighborhoods.


Since January two years ago, about 1,900 Negro families have been evicted from their homes, mostly in slums north of Broad st., to make way for the Richmond-Petersburg turnpike and other developments.

In the next few months, another 300 or more families will be ousted.

These people, about one-tenth of the estimated 75,000 Negroes in Richmond, have generally found or will find new homes in two places – doubling up in existing Negro areas or moving into previously white areas.

Two housing officials said that few of the ousted families, most of which have low incomes, have bought houses owned by whites. Many, however, have doubled up in houses vacated by wealthier Negroes who have bought homes formerly owned by whites.

The officials are Frederic A. Fay, executive director of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and Reuben E. Clay, race relations director for the local Federal Housing Administration office.

New Construction

While much of the crowding will be eased within two years by new construction, mostly subsidized housing (1,232 units), the expansion into white areas probably will be permanent.

And growth of the Negro population will keep present overcrowded Negro areas as crowded as before, if not more so, Fay and Clay predicted.

The great majority of the Negroes were displaced last year and this year from the turnpike route, the Carver redevelopment area, the Gilpin Court extension site, areas where the Medical College of Virginia is expanding, from houses condemned by the city as unsafe or unhealthy and from a few other locations.

The other 300 families will be ousted from these areas and from the route of the Belvidere st. extension to Chamberlayne ave.

This is the short-term picture. By July 1958, if the Negro population were not to rise, the situation should be much better. But no one expects Negro population growth to stop.

By then, all of the 1,232 low-rent housing units, operated by Fay’s organization, are scheduled to be opened.

Fay said these developments should barely take care of the lowest-income families, who will get first call on the units.

The pressure will start to ease next month when the first apartments of the 338-unit Gilpin Court extension will be opened.

The extension, on a 14-acre former slum site around Chamberlayne ave. near St. James st., should be wholly occupied by September.

Two additional Negro developments in the East End, each with 447 units – Whitcomb Court and Fairfield Court – should be finished by July, 1958.

Private Capital Needed

Even when all three developments are filled, about 1,000 of the ousted families will be left.

One possible bright spot for these families lies north of Broad st. Private developers are planning to build apartments in the Carver redevelopment area.

Fay said: “If the customary pattern of private development is followed, about 400 to 450 two-bedroom units, renting for a minimum of $60 a month, should be built by 1959.”

Clay countered: “I have my doubts whether parts of Carver will be redeveloped into apartment areas. Nobody has decided what’s going to be provided.”

Even if it is, he said, the rents probably would be about $75 a month, while the vast majority of Negroes can’t afford over $50.

Other recent construction has raised the total number of units available to Negroes, however.

A 98-unit private rental facility, University Terrace Apartments on Langston ave., opened a few months ago. Rents are $70 to $75 plus utilities.

A few better-heeled Negro families – and there is wide disagreement how many – have built their own homes.

Clay, a Negro, estimated 200 new houses have been built for Negroes in the past two or three years. Fay said at the outside 15 have been built.

“The big bugaboo delaying new house construction is Negro credit,” Fay said. “Negroes have a hard time getting credit, especially now when money is tight.”

APA Citation:
Alexander, Bevin. “10% of Negroes In City Evicted For Projects” (May 19, 1957). (2024, May 23). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Alexander, Bevin. "“10% of Negroes In City Evicted For Projects” (May 19, 1957)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (23 May. 2024). Web. 16 Jun. 2024
Last updated: 2024, June 06
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