Residents respond to HUD report on failures at DC Housing Authority

Days after a scathing report laying out public housing failures, the D.C. Housing Authority held an emergency meeting with its board on the report, issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The discussion between board members and the agency’s leadership was not made public, and residents were only allowed to weigh in on the findings once the closed session ended.

Marlena Childs spoke of life since 2015 at Langston Terrace in Northeast D.C., including what she called deplorable conditions at the property. Among the issues she brought up were corroded staircases and water-damaged walls in bathrooms.

She said rat and mouse infestations caused not only damage to cars, but also the building.

“I caught 90 mice,” Childs said.

The HUD report claimed the District’s public housing authority failed to provide “decent, safe and sanitary,” housing for residents in need.

Kisha McDougald said her home was deemed uninhabitable, and she was forced into hotels while the city continued to pay the landlord for a unit she can not live in.

“It’s madness,” McDougald said.

Board member Bill Slover expressed his concern that nothing had been done, despite his attempts to pass on 35 emails McDougald sent to him regarding her issues.

“I was unable to do anything for you clearly, and that’s a frustration on my part,” Slover said. “I’m sorry the agency has let you down.”

Karen Settles took issue with the board discussing the report without the community being able to weigh in.

“We are better than this for each other,” Settles said. “I expect more.”

DCHA has 60 days to respond to HUD on the report’s findings. Mayor Muriel Bowser said earlier this week that she was “embarrassed” by its findings, and has ordered a top-down review at the housing authority.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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