Durham mother demands more from public housing officials after she went 3 days without a stove in her home

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – From leaky pipes, to rats, to appliances that don’t always work, families who live in the Hoover Road public housing complex in Durham are demanding better living conditions.

Azaria Lunsford is a mother of four who said her family was left without a working stove in her apartment for three days. She had no way to cook for her children and she couldn’t afford to keep eating out.

“It’s ridiculous. I was hungry yesterday. I had really bad stomach pains,” Lunsford said. “I haven’t been hungry in a long time.”

Lunsford said she received this new stove on Thursday.

“Friday, I tried to cook some fish sticks in the oven, and they were only in there for maybe about three or four minutes before I smelled this horrible smell,” Lunsford said.

She said it smelled like burnt oil coming from her stove. She said the smoke alarms started to go off.

She called the fire department and she said they told her that it was not safe for her to use her stove or her oven.

“It was like a replay of last January,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said it’s been a year ago this week when crews found high levels of carbon monoxide emitting from the stove she had then.

“Are we dying in here slowly and not knowing it?” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said she notified a maintenance worker who was already at Hoover Road about the problem.

“He told me he was coming right over,” Lunsford said.

She said she waited for four hours and he never showed up that day.

Lunsford said she called the Durham Housing Authority again on Saturday and on Sunday but she couldn’t get a hold of anyone.

Lunsford then decided to reach out to CBS 17 on Sunday morning. Within hours of CBS 17 reaching out to DHA, a maintenance worker showed up to switch out the stoves.

She said so far her new stove is working, but she is demanding DHA do a better job of responding to issues like this.

“While they’re at home with their family getting to enjoy their Sunday, me and my family are over here starving,” Lunsford said.

CBS 17 reached out to DHA about Lunsford’s concerns but is still waiting to hear back.

In an interview last week, CBS 17 asked DHA CEO Anthony Scott if he would want to live in the conditions that many families who live in public housing are complaining about.

“We have an ongoing struggle with the repairs and some of that is straight on DHA and those are the things that we’re fixing,” Scott said. “But we do have an aging housing stock that clearly isn’t something that any of us would want to have as homes.”

Scott said that there is a backlog of work orders and that with their current reporting system some work orders have not been properly tracked. As CBS 17 previously reported, Dan Hudgins, chair of DHA’s Board of Commissioners said there are currently 700 work orders that need to be completed.

Scott said they receive hundreds of new work orders per day.

In an effort to help them get caught up, he said DHA has hired more than 30 temporary maintenance workers. In addition, he said they will be contracting with a third-party call service to create a hotline residents can call to file a work order.

“That way we make sure we have independent verification that a work order has gone in, when it went in, and what it says,” Scott said.

Scott said it will be another couple of months before the maintenance hotline is up and running.

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