Wilmington City leaders take public housing issues to Congress
WASHINGTON D.C. (WECT) - Three Wilmington City leaders traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate on behalf of the City and be the voice for over 150 families, including more than 300 children, that have been displaced from their homes because of mold issues.
Mayor Bill Saffo and Council members Clifford Barnett and Luke Waddell spoke to members of congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)about the problem with the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) properties.
Saffo said the discussions have focused on trying to get leaders to understand the magnity of the problem and the unacceptable situation Wilmington is in.
“We have over 100 units that have already been mediated and are ready to be put back but we are lacking the funds and the monies,” said Saffo.
Saffo said that officials with HUD will be visiting Wilmington in the next week or so to evaluate the units affected by mold.
Councilman Waddell said the city is asking for money from HUD to get hundreds of families back into their homes. He said they were able to drive home the fact that 100 houses have already been remediated and that they just needed the money to get them fitted out for people to move back in.
The WHA Board had said at a meeting in February that they needed around $14 million to resolve the current situation; however, Saffo said he is asking for more.
“What I understand, [what’s needed] for the first phase of this, was about $12- to $13 million,” said Saffo. “What I asked for, for Wilmington Housing Authority, will be, in the worst case scenario, understanding there’s going to be more residents that are going to be displaced due to mold issues. That number is about $32 million.”
He said they’d shared those numbers with HUD explaining the immediate need for $12- to $13 million to get the 100 units back on line as quickly as possible. Then, he said the City is going to need the additional funds for the different phases. He added that all of the leaders are very much aware of the situation.
Saffo said his main focus is to get the displaced residents back in their homes as quickly as possible and secure funds as soon as possible.
“From my perspective, it’s probably one of the biggest issues of all housing authorities in the country,” said Saffo.
He also said that the WHA is hoping to have a new executive director appointed within the next two weeks.
According to the City of Wilmington public information officer, top priorities of the trip include:
- Discussing the ongoing Wilmington Housing Authority issues with the Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Strengthening the area’s infrastructure and building flood resilience with the Pew Charitable Trusts
- Advocating for legislation that will benefit Wilmington through meetings with area Congressional leaders including Senator Richard Burr, Senator Thom Tillis, Congressman David Rouzer, Congressman David Price, and Congresswoman Alma Adams
Mayor and Council arrived in Washington, DC on Monday, March 14 and will return to Wilmington on Wednesday, March 16.
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