Repair hotline expected to help Durham public housing better track problems will launch in July

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — From leaky pipes to floors caving in, some people living in Durham public housing have waited months for repairs to be made in their homes.

Stella Rhodes lives in the Club Boulevard public housing community, where she said she has dealt with deplorable living conditions for months.

Since November, the pipes under her sink have leaked water when she runs water, and she said it’s ruined some of her pots and pans.

In addition to that, she said her floors are unsteady. Rhodes said she injured her knee several months ago when her floor gave way.

“I do not have a knee, it’s completely gone,” Rhodes said.

On Tuesday, both her toilet and bathtub were clogged up and she was unable to use the bathroom in her home. She called the Durham Housing Authority in the morning and as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, no one had come to make any repairs yet.

“I’m tired, really I’m tired, because this is not right, you don’t want anybody to live like this,” Rhodes said.

CBS 17 called both the housing authority’s main office and Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott and told him about the problem.

Within minutes, maintenance men showed up to fix her toilet and they also repaired Rhodes’ sink.

She said the housing authority maintenance crew told her they will be back on Wednesday to repair her floor.

The Durham Housing Authority told CBS 17 back in January that they were experiencing a backlog of work orders due COVID-19, but they said there were also issues with work orders not being tracked properly.

Scott said in an email last week that they had a balance of 1,423 work orders in May. That’s an increase from the backlog of 1,025 that DHA had back in March.

Scott said they had hired some temporary workers to help get them caught up, but they are also planning to launch a maintenance repair hotline to help them keep better track of work orders.

Scott said the vendor they have selected is AnswerNet, a call service company based in the Philadelphia area.

Scott said this company was approved at the Operations Board Committee and the final approval will occur at this week’s DHA Board meeting.

Gary Pudles, AnswerNet’s CEO, said they have more than 10,000 clients and they assist everything from housing authorities to doctor’s offices, to real estate companies.

“This is right up our alley, it’s something we do all the time,” Pudles said.

Pudles said they will have people answering maintenance calls 24/7 and they will have a process set up to make sure all work orders are properly tracked.

“One of the areas we’re very strong in is maintaining and capturing data,” Pudles said. “That’s really one of the most important things for an answering service today and that’s one of the areas that we excel in.”

Pudles said they are in the IT setup phase now, in the next couple of weeks they’ll start agent training, and they expect to have the hotline launched the week after the July 4th weekend.

“I think the community should feel confident in working with us because we’re one of the largest answering service companies in the country,” Pudles said.

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