CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Those with Charles House Association and the National Action Network met with current and former tenants of the City of Charleston’s Housing Authority to discuss what they’re calling major ongoing issues.
The press conference today was a platform for tenants to share their stories and shed a light on their living conditions. The hope was to urge city leaders to improve ongoing issues.
According to the advocacy groups and tenants themselves, they say they were neglected by Charleston’s Housing Authority and they want a clean and safe living environment. Some tenants have been living in mold, mildew, water damaged, and pest-infested homes run by the program.
For many residents off of Nassau Street in Downtown Charleston, they say that making do is how they get by. “Every time I got to wash clothes, every time I want to [give] my children something clean to wear, I have to deal with sweeping the water out as it was washing. As it’s filling up, I’ve got to sweep the water out, I can’t. I got to hang the hose out the window,” said one resident.
The resident, who wants to remain anonymous, says that she has reported many issues to the Charleston Housing Authority, but they have been left unattended.
Others tell News 2, they’ve been threatened with evictions if they speak out about the conditions.
Those with the Housing Authority say they have the right to their freedom of speech and want the tenants to tell the program what needs to be fixed or for many fixed to completion.
Art S. Milligan, the Chief Operating Officer for Housing Authority of the City of Charleston said they are looking for more staff so that they can visit the units more and spend more time inside the units dealing with the issues they have. Milligan said they even raised the minimum wage for the job postings to $15 an hour to attract qualified individuals.
Milligan says the for the authority to know what is happening, they need the tenants to send pictures or text messages detailing the concerns and problems.
However, when it comes to water damage and other structural issues, he says their only next step is an overhaul of the houses themselves. “Reposition these units to better ones or remodel them. And while people say they be scared of RAD, that is one of the things that it will allow us to do is to come into this community and others and improve them,” said Milligan.
But for some of the 9.2% of the city’s population currently living in these homes, they don’t see themselves staying much longer.
For more about Charles House Association, click here.
To sign the petition for safe living, click here.
To report a maintenance need as a tenant in the Housing Authority Program, click here.