Wilder symposium addresses obstacles faced by urban community improvements

Chip Lauterbach

Contributing Writer


Professionals from across Virginia discussed the roles of urban communities in improving housing opportunities, public policy and education at the 2018 Wilder Symposium Oct. 3.

Held at the W.E. Singleton Center for Performing Arts, the symposium was organized by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Panelists included former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and U.S. Rep. Robert Scott. Topics varied from what VCU students can do for the local Richmond community to discussions of the upcoming midterm elections at the national level.

“No, the world is not coming to an end. Nor are we on the precipice of the abyss,” Wilder said. “But we are in a position where we need to demand what is right and criticize what is wrong.”

Wilder said people must vote to make positive changes in their communities. He also urged those in attendance to be mindful of the challenges faced by all Americans today.

Scott (D-Va., 3rd District) who represents the state’s 3rd District, said many Americans face hardships related to working minimum wage jobs and cannot afford basic housing anywhere in the U.S. He also pointed to the rise of homelessness and offered his take on a solution.

“We know of studies that have been done that show — for $200 billion spent over ten years — that [with] $20 billion a year we can effectively eliminate homelessness in the United States,” Scott said. “It sounds like a lot of money, but compare that to the $2 trillion that this last tax cut is going to cost us. That 10 percent of $2 trillion could make it so that every American has a home.”

Throughout the night, numerous guest speakers and VCU professors discussed housing discrimination — how inner cities and urban communities are affected by selective segregation. Many local government workers and Wilder School students attended the symposium.

Additional panelists included Wilder School Interim Dean Susan Gooden, former director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes and VCU School of Education associate professor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley.

“I was happy to hear from Gov. Wilder and Congressman Scott because they really spoke well of the challenges faced in the legislature,” said VCU student Lorena Turriate-Gil. “You get the feeling that politicians never do anything, yet they made me aware of just how hard it is to get a bill passed and how they really do care about the public good.”

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