DHA launches 24/7 maintenance hotline to keep better track of work orders

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – At Cornwallis Road Apartments, a public housing complex in Durham, Shequana Robinson walked CBS 17 through her home on Wednesday afternoon where roaches could be found crawling on the walls, inside cabinets, and in her closets.

“They’re crawling everywhere, it doesn’t matter how much I clean up,” Robinson said.

Robinson said she can’t even keep any of her food in her cabinets due to this roach infestation.

She said she has also had issues with water leaking in her walls and the ceiling, and she said in the past it hasn’t been easy to report a problem to DHA.

“There were times when I put in a work order and they hadn’t even gotten it,” Robinson said.

Just a few apartments down, Calvin Lee said he has had issues with rats coming into her apartment for a while. He said that DHA has put some rat traps in his apartment, but that has not fixed the problem.

“I want my house right, where I can afford to live here and live here in peace,” Lee said.

Areka Thompson also lives at Cornwallis Road. She said she has not had heat or AC for months.

She said she also has a hard time reporting her problems to DHA.

“Anything that we need, they make it to the point where it’s like pulling teeth,” Thompson said. “It shouldn’t be that hard for people who are working to better themselves.”

On Tuesday, the Durham Housing Authority officially launched a new 24/7 maintenance hotline, which is one phone number that all tenants of DHA can call to file a work order.

The hotline number is 1-844-RING-DHA, and the calls go to a third-party call center that DHA has contracted.

“You will then get a work order submitted directly into our system with that one call. There’s no concern about them doing it later. It’s done immediately as part of their overall calls,” DHA CEO Anthony Scott said during Tuesday night’s DHA town hall meeting.

Scott said DHA decided to contract with the call center to create a hotline after there were concerns about work orders not being properly tracked.

“What it does is it allows us to track work orders and make sure that they are in the system and that they are being addressed,” Scott said.

The families in public housing that CBS 17 spoke with on Wednesday said they are hoping this new hotline will help make it easier for them to report maintenance issues.

“I pray to God that this hotline helps. And if it does, it would be great for everybody,” Robinson said.

Scott said this hotline will not speed up maintenance response times, but it will help them keep better track of all the maintenance requests.

In May 2021, DHA had a backlog of 1,423 works, but after hiring new permanent and temporary maintenance staff, this has helped them bring that backlog down to 92 work orders.

Scott said they do still get about 1,000 maintenance requests every month and they are still looking to hire 5 more permanent maintenance workers. Scott said those five positions are currently filled with temporary workers.

“We’re not by any means satisfied, but we are definitely making progress,” Scott said.

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