Durham Housing Authority in need of more repairmen as work orders pile up in public housing

North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – From floors caving in to leaky ceilings, many families who live in Durham public housing are having to wait months for repairs to be done.

The latest data from the Durham Housing Authority showed that it had a backlog of 1,423 work orders in May.

During a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Zack Hawkins on Tuesday night, DHA’s CEO Anthony Scott said more maintenance workers are needed to help them get caught up on the backlog.

“Our response time is going to be directly tied to staffing availability,” Scott said.

CBS 17 asked Scott during the town hall how many of DHA’s maintenance worker positions are vacant, but Scott said he didn’t have those numbers.

Scott said they have brought in some temporary workers to help address the backlog. He said next week the Durham Housing Authority will be posting maintenance worker positions.

He added that they have struggled to recruit workers, and they have gone back to adjust the salary and make it more competitive.

“We wanted to make sure that we were being competitive so we could attract good quality maintenance workers,” Scott said.

The Durham Housing Authority has also been working on a maintenance repair hotline for months that’s expected to make it easier for families to submit work orders. The latest projected launch date for that hotline was supposed to be mid-July, but during Tuesday night’s meeting, Scott said the launch date for the hotline has been delayed.

While there were talks in the spring to have the hotline launched as early as May, the targeted launch date has now been moved to early August.

“We’re dealing with some red tape. We have to make sure that the vendor has full access to our work order system,” Scott said.

But families who live in public housing argue that DHA should be doing more to address the problems in their apartments.

“It’s tons of excuses that DHA is making, and we’re done with the excuses,” said Corinthia Rainey, a mom of two kids who lives at McDougald Terrace.

Rainey showed CBS 17 where water leaked from her upstairs bathroom into her kitchen downstairs and ruined her cabinets.

“I had a leak and it flooded everything,” Rainey said.

She said maintenance did come fix the problem the first time it happened, but it still leaked after that.

“I’m still scared to put food there because that’s hundreds of dollars of food getting ruined,” Rainey said.

Rainey said she is also dealing with mold, windows that don’t always lock, and stair treads coming up from the stairs in her apartment.

“I call, but it takes them months and months to fix things,” Rainey said.

Rainey argues that DHA should be doing more to address the problems in public housing.

“There’s no reason how you can sleep comfortable in your bed knowing that there’s thousands of families out here with all these problems, and it’s your fault,” Rainey said. “It’s your fault for not getting the proper people in to get the proper work done.”

Scott said the Durham Housing Authority is also working on getting more contracted employees to help with the backlog of work orders. He said DHA is still waiting on HUD to approve this request.

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