Delayed repairs to public housing raises safety concerns

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – For Tomarra Mills, her two daughters and baby on the way are her main priority.

“I work hard six days a week,” she said, adding that hard earned money hasn’t gotten her a safe home for them

“Around Thanksgiving time I was cooking and I realized that my ceiling was leaking.”

So, she called maintenance at Victoria Gardens Apartments to fix the leak a second time – but the fix didn’t last long.

Repair2“Around December, there’s a big hole up there when I came home from work one night and it’s leaking onto my floor,” she said, adding issues like the kitchen and bathroom sinks being clogged have been going on since November. “This right here [motions to board above toilet], they cut the wall out, sent the plumber, cut the wall out, vacuumed it. It still didn’t unstop.”

This week – maintenance made another attempt at a repair leaving a hole underneath a sheet of paper.

“It’s the pipes and wires and everything. You can see straight through my tub.”

“Two things were called in at one time,” said Spartanburg Housing Authority Director Terril Bates. “The staff person that responded took care of one thing and closed the work order before circling back to complete the ceiling work.”

While 7 News was at her home — maintenance arrived with an update to fix the hole in the kitchen ceiling by Saturday morning.

“We’re going to repair the hole. We’re going to put sheetrock over the hole,” said the worker, who brought Mills a letter about plans for Saturday.

Repairs 1“What about the tub, the sink in the bathroom, the sink in the kitchen?” she said after reading the letter. “I’m not even going to step in there [motioning to bathtub] because it feels like it’s going down.”

Bates said the delay in repairs were unacceptable.

“We do have on record that she made a report in September and I can’t apologize enough to the resident and to the public that that was not taken care of sooner,” she said. “It certainly should not have happened like that.”

She says they’ve been having a hard time finding qualified plumbers and contractors to handle these bigger jobs, despite advertising the openings online.

“The tilting of the tub and the floor are things that will be followed up on,” said Bates. “Those are the things that our maintenance staff probably doesn’t have the skill for.”
Victoria GardensUntil they find those skilled workers, Mills may just have to continue taking showers at her mom’s house.
“I love my kids and I just want them to be healthy,” she said. “I just want them to live in a stable environment.”
The Spartanburg Housing authority recently received $1.2 Million dollars from HUD to help improve its communities. Bates says their funding needs are around $16 million.

Still, she encourages residents living in public housing to bring their concerns directly to the housing authority if their property management is not helping in a timely fashion. Residents may reach Jessica Holcomb at 864-598-6023.

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