DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham Housing Authority will launch major reforms to get rid of the rats, leaky ceilings, broken appliances, and stoves that catch fire at some of the public housing complexes in the city.
After CBS 17 reported on the deplorable conditions people live in, officials with DHA said on Tuesday they plan to start a hotline for residents to call about their maintenance concerns.
Delissia Tatum lives at Hoover Road and she has to use her oven to heat her home.
“My oven is open, and it pretty much heats up the downstairs,” Tatum said. “My vents do not work down here. None of my vents work downstairs — period.”
Tatum also showed the doors coming loose off of their hinges, holes in her ceiling, and her cabinet drawers are falling apart.
She said she filed work orders months ago, but nothing has been done.
“This is how we’re living,” Tatum said. “They want our rent money, but they don’t want to make sure our kids are in a good condition to live in.”
Tatum is not alone. There are currently 700 work orders that have yet to be completed within the Durham Housing Authority, according to the Dan Hudgins, chair of the DHA Board of Commissioners.
Hudgins also said that they receive about 800 new work orders every month.
“We have 1,600 units we’re maintaining, 70 percent of those had at least one work order in the last year,” Hudgins said. “Most of those things are minor.”
Hudgins said they are dealing with a backlog of work orders. He said COVID-19 is one factor that’s lead to the backlog, but they also found that not all work orders were being properly tracked.
“We have residents who claim they have submitted a work order, but we can’t find a record of it,” Hudgins said.
On Tuesday, DHA officials decided to contract with a separate call service to create one hotline people can call to ensure there is a record of every work order and that these issues are addressed.
“I’m embarrassed by the conditions,” Hudgins said. “We have a real commitment to making sure that all of our properties are provided healthy and safe environments. But with this system, I think there will be more accountability.”
Hudgins said the plan is to launch this hotline in the coming weeks.
DHA has also brought on five new temporary workers to help get them caught up on the repairs.