WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Nearly a year after a scathing federal report identified dozens of issues within the D.C. Housing Authority, neighbors living in one DCHA property said conditions are still unlivable.
“It’s sad, it’s depressing. It causes a lot of frustration, a lot of angst. A lot of us here are unhappy,” said Thomasia Moore, who has been living at Potomac Gardens for years.
The 2022 assessment done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development laid out more than 80 failures by the D.C. Housing Authority, including inadequate management, poor oversight of DCHA policies and unsafe and unsanitary properties.
DCHA responded to the report in November of 2022, making pledges to address the issues.
“Property maintenance is a big issue sand clearly we’re really focused on that. We have real people that live in our public housing, and we want them to live in safe decent housing that is healthy and that provides them with a quality of life,” then director Brenda Donald told DC News Now back in 2022.
But, neighbors don’t feel like much progress has been made over the last year.
“Flooding, mold, rodent infestation, peeling paint,” Moore said, detailing ongoing issues in her unit. “Whenever there is a heavy rain we get roaches, big roaches that fly. I am deathly afraid of those roaches. I bought a cat that helps me get rid of the mice.”
Moore currently has a tarp up in her living room to cover the mold, which she said has been an issue for more than a year.
In her bathroom, a piece of cardboard covers a crumbling ceiling and the tiles on the floor squishes with water when stepped on.
“We’ve been dealing with this for years. This is nothing new. DCHA does not care about the human condition,” Moore said.
In April, DCHA reported the agency passed a resolution to adopt new plans and policies to reopen the public housing wait list. In a press release the agency stated, “the plan approval represents a major step towards curing an additional one-third of the findings of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2022 On Site Assessment. In the coming months, the agency will train all relevant staff on changes and begin implementing all changes.”
In a statement to DC News Now Tuesday, DCHA said:
“DCHA’s mission is to provide quality affordable housing to District residents including households at Potomac Gardens. DCHA recently inspected 85% of the units there and is in the process of making needed repairs, in addition to the increased pest control Less than 5% of the units needed extensive repairs. DCHA has offered or is in the process of offering transfers to these families.”
Still, residents at Potomac Gardens are skeptical.
“Anything that works, you can rest assured that DCHA is doing the opposite way,” longtime resident Aquarius Vann-Ghasri, said.
Vann-Ghasri has lived in her apartment for more than 40 years. She said neighbors have taken to doing their own handywork.
“I have done my own plastering. I’ve gone to DCHA classes to learn how to plaster,” she said. “If you think I know how to plaster, I really don’t know. However, I cannot continuously wait for government to come in my unit and do it.”
The two women want to see immediate action from DCHA.
“We want our federal vouchers. Potomac Gardens lifecycle is over, there are no more band-aids, there are no more makeshift cardboard boxes on the ceilings and doors and walls and bedrooms. It’s over,” Moore said. “Human beings live here. Real families and children live here. We deserve better.”