Public Housing Residents Demand Housing Authority Make Changes - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Public Housing Residents Demand Housing Authority Make Changes

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People who live in Charlottesville public housing are demanding that the city's redevelopment and housing authority make some major changes. This comes after an audit reported major criticisms of the authority's management and policies.

The Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) sent a five-page letter to the authority's board and executive director Monday night, calling the housing authority's staff "incompetent and disrespectful."

"We've been complaining for the longest time and nobody's listening to what we have to say," said Shymora Cooper, public housing resident.

She and a handful of PHAR members gathered at the South First Street Community Center on Monday to send a message to the city's redevelopment and housing authority.

They say enough is enough. 

"We're feuding. We're fussing back and forth. We're placing the blame on everybody instead of everybody taking accountability for their own actions," said Cooper.

Cooper claims the authority ignores maintenance requests.

"It could be weeks, maybe months sometimes before the maintenance issues are got around to," said Cooper.

PHAR also says policy decisions are made without their input.   

"We feel like we're being ignored, and we feel like we've got a lot to say," said Brandon Collins, PHAR organizer.

PHAR members point to a recent audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It found the authority fails to follow policies and lacks trained, knowledgeable staff.

"We've tried, and I know we would like to build a relationship with the housing authority. But, it's a two-way street and we feel like we've been met with resistance at every turn," said Collins.

PHAR is demanding the authority immediately survey all maintenance needs and involve residents in annual planning about to get underway.

"We're going to come out a little stronger and really stand up and fight for those key demands," said Collins.    

Cooper says she's not going anywhere until conditions and communication improve. 

"We're going to keep getting out here and hopefully get better results," said Cooper.

In a statement to NBC29, the executive director says the authority is "committed to communicating with residents in keeping with all HUD requirements."

To read PHAR's full list of demands, click here.

Monday night, the housing authority met for the first time since the HUD audit, and the executive director gave a summary of the audit in her report.

The commission hopes to meet with HUD in the coming weeks to discuss the audit in more detail. 

One board member says that some of the issues brought to light, such as maintenance, fall back on the board itself. 

"And it's the board; I would have to put it back on the board because the board has to give the staff the direction to be able to do what needs to be done," said CRHA commissioner Joy Johnson. 

Monday night the commission also voted to approve the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.

To read PHAR's response to the HUD review, click here.

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