This week, Councilman Nat Bates circulated the following email in response to the current controversy related to HUD and the Richmond Housing Authority. Radio Free Richmond is posting his email without edits or comments.
During the past several days I have sat back and observed the many inaccurate comments by Mayor McLaughlin, Councilman Butt, Director Jones, City Manager Lindsay and a few others with their protective comments while blaming HUD official, the press and believe it or not, a few of the tenant who are victims and are accused of over exaggeration of the problems they are experiencing. It is apparent the intent of some is to blame everyone but the management for our problems. Nowhere does anyone take responsibility for screwing up. The Mayor, Tom Butt and Jovanka Beckles claims they knew nothing about the HOA problems, yet each of us received the attached letter dated August 8, 2012. You should question as to what are their motives in trying to discredit several competent news reporters while protecting staff in not doing their job? First, please read the August 8, 2012 attached 4 page report and afterwards, listen and watch the camera reports by the various news media of personal testimonies, (highlighted in blue below) by tenant and come to your own conclusion. Pictures do not lie and you will see for yourself how deplorable tenants have had to live for the past several years. As I stated in last Tuesday meeting, a HOA Director should be qualified to do the full description of his job requirements. Yet, the city manager has during the past several years directed the city Finance Director, Mr. Goins to do most if not all of the financial work for the HOA. The city bill HOA for the extra work while the director continues to receives his full time salary. Where in any government or private sector when 25% of a person work is farmed out, they continue to receive 100% of their salary. The attached HUD evaluation clearly indicates we do not have a competent director and there is no way an individual overnight can improve these inadequacies.
Finally, I would never have thought in 2014 we would witness any Richmond City Department and especially the HOA, who has a dominate African American management staff while serving a majority of African American tenants that the negativity, hostile and disrespectful attitude toward their own people would be as prevalent and visible as with the Richmond Housing Authority. HUD needs to intervene immediately and take over the complete operations of the entire Richmond Housing Authority that includes the removal of all management staff and clean up the authority. Until HUD intervenes, the foxes will continue to guard the hen house and the tenants of the HOA and the city in general will continue to suffer.
As I previously stated. “I have been a long time Oakland Raider season ticket holder and at this point, I have as much confidence the current management of the city will correct the problems as I do anticipating the Oakland Raiders playing in the 2015 Super Bowl”
Saturday February 22, 2014, I personally visited the Nevins Plaza and spoke with several tenants. Many had the same complaints as expressed during the council meeting. However, I decided to pay an unexpected visit to Mr. Wardell Jones, an 84 year old blind tenant who had been an outstanding athlete in his younger years and a personal friend I have known for some forty years. Mr. Jones has repeatedly complained about no heat for the past two or more years. This was also recorded in the news interview story by the media. He uses his electric oven to heat his room from about 10 PM to 11:30 PM to keep warm. Be mindful of the fact, all tenants pay their own electric bill as well as rent and this usage has increased his utility bill considerably. Director Jones when questioned by Councilman Booze during Tuesday night council meeting indicated the heating unit was fixed in October. Mr. Jones disputes this statement and I personally witness no heat in his unit. Someone on is lying and I do not think it is the tenant.
Sunday, Councilman Booze and I visited the Hacienda Housing unit for about one and a half hours from about noon to 1:30PM. Conditions continue to exist as reported during the Tuesday night emergency council meeting. However, we discovered both of the elevators in the building inoperable whereas we had to walk the stairs to gain access to the five floors. The Hacienda houses several handicapped persons that are wheel chaired and many are located throughout the building from the first to the fifth floor. One lady on the fourth floor had gone to church early that morning and several tenant friends were concerned how she was going to be able to return to her unit with the elevators out. This situation can potentially be a serious problem should an emergency arise as residents are hostage in their own homes. We looked and there were no emergencies telephone numbers to request help or anyone in the building knowledgeable of obtaining assistance. The only number they have is 911. While there for about an hour and a half, we witness no security personnel on duty.
What a way to run a housing unit authority and to our embarrassment, this has been going on for almost five years under the same management and leadership who after the news media came in and exposed the situation, now wants to fix things. By the way, Councilman Butt supports the staff and is critical of the news media because he feels they have over exaggerated the problem with sensational journalism. Please, someone give me a break.
- Nat Bates
* Radio Free Richmond is received this email from community members who asked us to post this. We did not ask permission from Councilman Bates and did not edit the content in any way.