NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The St. Paul’s redevelopment plan has been in progress for more than two years now and after finally getting approval to move ahead, the coronavirus pandemic has halted the project.

The plan is to tear down 1,700 public housing units in the St. Paul area and replace them with mixed-income communities. This requires the existing residents to move out of the area and find new housing.

On January 14, residents of the area attempted to sue the housing authority with a 51-page complaint that says the plan to redevelop the St. Paul’s Quadrant would further segregate disadvantaged black residents.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to stop the move-out process and reevaluate the plans. It continues that the new project can be designed to include the existing residents and explains that the average income for that area is about $12,000 a year.

On January 28, the council got the ‘go-ahead’ to move forward with the plans and begin laying the first two buildings as part of the project.

In April, the Norfolk Housing Authority filed a motion to suspend the residence relocation, and most of the redevelopment project in St. Paul’s area until at least October due to the coronavirus. The motion was approved allowing a 180-day extension.

The NRHA issued letters to the residents notifying them of the relocation suspension.

The letter says, “Due to the current COVID-19 situation the redevelopment plans are being delayed. There is no requirement that you look for alternative housing, move, or use any relocation services during the next six months.”

The letter continues, “After this time period, you will be given ample time to identify housing for you and your family.”

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