Marible Mendoza has lived on the 6th floor the Richmond Housing Authority's Hacienda complex for the past five years. In this time, Mendoza, who is just 20 years old, has experienced on a daily basis the conditions that RHA Executive Director Tim Jones described as "uninhabitable." She talked with Radio Free Richmond about her experience:
Radio Free Richmond (RFR): The sixth floor of Hacienda is known to be the worst off in the building. Can you describe what it is like on there?
Marible Mendoza (MM): It's not clean here. There's mold on the ceiling in the hallway and in my apartment. The bugs come in, too, from my neighbors' apartments, and I see them in our unit.
RFR: When there is mold in your unit and in the hallway, how is that handled by management?
MM: I don't usually see anything happen. We clean it up when it gets into our apartment, but in the hallway it just stays there. I haven't seen managers around.
RFR: How would you describe your daily life in Hacienda?
MM: I try not to be in Hacienda. My life is routine though. I wake up and I get ready. I go to work and I come home. Typically, I’m just here when I’m not at work. I just sleep here, you know. I prefer not to be at Hacienda.
RFR: Have conditions changed since the story around Hacienda broke?
MM: I haven't noticed a difference...There is still mold. There are still bugs. I see the same drug dealers in the hallway, the same boarded up units. It's hard for me to notice anything that has really changed over the past year.
RFR: Do you feel part of a community in Hacienda?
MM: There isn't really a community in my building. It's just a place that I live. I try not to go out at night. That's how I stay away from the drugs and the people who hang around the building.
RFR: How do you imagine the future of Hacienda?
MM: Nothing has changed in the past five years, and I don't really see things changing anytime soon. Hacienda is where I live right now... I'm looking forward to the day when I don't live here. I don't know when that will happen, though.
Photo courtesy of the Center for Investigative Reporting.