The Richmond City Council will hire an independent auditor to investigate systemic issues of work order responsiveness within the Housing Authority.
The Housing Authority, which has been plagued by media reports of financial malfeasance and public housing neglect, has a “credibility problem,” said City Manager Bill Lindsay. The reports showed residents living under leaking roofs with rats and mold.
In the weeks since the disclosures by the Center for Investigative Reporting, KQED and The San Francisco Chronicle, the council has struggled with finger-pointing and infighting. Last night was no different. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin called two recesses during discussion of the Housing Authority audit.
Council members expressed frustration that more hasn’t been done to help the public housing residents who are living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
“People continue to live in deplorable conditions, and we’re talking and doing nothing but talking and talking,” Councilmember Nat Bates said.
Bates suggested that public works staff should just go ahead and start fixing the roof at Hacienda, the public housing complex that is in the worst shape.
Corky Booze and Jim Rogers both questioned Lindsay on whether the approximately $200,000 auditing project would be the best use of taxpayer funds, especially when public housing residents are still living with mold and rats.
Offering support for both the repairs and the investigation, Lindsay said that issues with the units must be dealt with, but that the management audit is also important.
Despite a contentious debate over the audit, the council voted unanimously to move forward.
Next week on March 11 the council will decide what steps should be taken to deal with the ongoing issues at the public housing unit.
Nancy DeVille contributed to this report.