WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Andrea Wright has lived in public housing for more than 20 years, coping with mold and broken windows. She said that DC Housing Authority officials were slow to fix any of these problems.
Now, with Mayor Muriel Bowser hoping City Council gives her the authority to appoint all housing authority board members with no tenant representation, residents like Wright have serious concerns about their voices being heard.
“I feel like the resident’s voice will be drowned out,” said Wright, as she stood in front of the complex where she used to live in the southeast. “I think it’s better to work with the residents to get their opinions on how to make their communities more sustainable.”
To Wright, nothing under Bowser’s majority board has really changed since the mayor has been in office.
“In my opinion, from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty much the same,” she said.
Faced with scathing criticism in a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the conditions at DCHA, Bowser proposed scaling back the board from 13 members to 7 and giving her all of the appointments.
Critics have charged that those who sounded the alarm at the problems at the DCHA – members who were not appointed by the mayor – would be removed in favor of more compliant board members who support her agenda. Those critics include DC Attorney Karl Racine who implored council members to reject the measure.
Abena Disroe, a member of the DCHA Citywide advisory board, said she shares these concerns as well.
“To me, that’s not the voice of the people,” Disroe said on the mayor trying to get rid of board members supported by residents.
“The management of the housing choice program, property management, tracking of finances, executive leadership, it has not improved” under the mayor, Disroe said. “Isn’t that what the director and the mayor are supposed to be accomplishing?”
Wright moved to another housing authority complex in 2019 after a fire chased her and others from her former building. She’s glad, she said, to have better housing.
She’s worried about those who don’t. Wright said the mayor and others need to be held accountable for not getting things done.
“The things that they are saying they are going to do and actually get done and it’s not just said during the time when it’s needed for voter turnout,” Wright said. “So we really need to see moving forward residential voices remain intact and for the mayor… we just need you to really make sure that the residents here are taken care of.”