RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — While Richmond’s Housing Authority tries to make a turnaround after years of financial issues and mismanagement, the poor it’s supposed to help are instead living in filth. Residents are furious and federal government could take over.
The City Council held an emergency meeting to deal with the issues Tuesday night, with the biggest complaints among residents is the mismanagement of maintenance requests.
“It’s very frustrating and I have two small kids,” Tamika Thomas told KPIX 5. Thomas said she has called the Richmond Housing Authority maintenance number between 15 to 20 times, enough to know the number by heart.
“We had to call them several times about the heater,” said Dashoun Thomas, Tamika’s husband. He claims their family of four had to go three months without heat. Dashoun said he ended up fixing it himself.
Diana Stanton said she still has cockroaches under her sink. She is so afraid bugs or rodents will get into her food, she stores it all in a grocery cart in her living room.
“You can’t get these people here to do anything for you,” Stanton said.
“I offer my apology both professionally and personally,” Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay told KPIX 5. The city manager said he did not know about how bad the living situations were.
“That really again is news to me, a surprise to me. It’s not what our maintenance records are telling us,” Lindsay said.
According to city records, the apartment maintenance issues are fixed, but the stories and pictures are telling a different story.
Richmond Housing Authority is in the hole $7 million. The federal government could take over if the authority does not turn things around.
Lindsay said a regional overseer thinks the city is improving. “She believes the Richmond Housing Authority is on the right track in terms of its performance improvement plan,” he said.
Residents who talked to KPIX 5 aren’t buying it. “I think that goes to show that disconnect that we have,” Lindsay said.
On Tuesday night, residents living in the Hacienda housing project and nearby Nevins Plaza packed a Richmond City Council meeting to share their horror stories.
The residents blame Tim Jones, who runs the Richmond Housing Authority. Jones spoke at the meeting and admitted he is failing.
“Please accept our personal and professional apologies for falling short,” Jones said.
While tenants want Jones out, he claimed the housing authority is on the right track. The director said he wanted to reallocate grant money to renovate Hacienda, but did not give a timeline.
Jones declined KPIX 5’s request for an interview. He is also dealing with questions of expensive meals and improper contracts.