August 28, 2013
Tackling the issues of Charlottesville's public housing is a big project, and Charlottesville's city manager is preparing to take it on.
At the city council meeting on Tuesday, city manager Maurice Jones is presenting his stretch objective. It's a proposal that would give Jones certain goals to achieve and would allow city council to review his work.
In his proposal, Jones says he'd like his stretch objective to focus exclusively on addressing issues with public housing and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
"Residents have a lot of complaints," said Joy Johnson, the vice chair of the Public Housing Alliance of Residents. "Residents are always saying, 'Here's what's wrong, I can't get this done, work order's not getting done or whatever.' This is their opportunity to be able to take it to someone who can make a difference."
Jones' three-page outline says it will not be an easy process. Jones identifies the CRHA's struggles with maintaining properties and resident relations.
"People just want to be treated like they're a human being," Johnson said. "I think that's just the bottom line."
But the stretch objective is a tough sell among some public housing residents.
"I won't believe nothing 'til I see something get done," public housing resident Connie Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum moved into her Hardy Drive apartment in April. She said the apartment was dirty from top to bottom, and no one would clean it.
"I was hoping for a lot to change," she said. "There's just a lot of stuff that needs to be done around here."
She says lights in the backyard have been out for years and bugs crawl into her apartment consistently.
"We have 20-year-old refrigerators and stoves," Rosenbaum said. "And they look like they've about had it, but we're still using them."
But Johnson says if the stretch objective is carried out in the proper way, it can help restore public housing residents' trust in the city.
"If it's the city manager they have to believe in, then fine," she said. "But we're supposed to be able to believe in the staff that is provided for us."
City council will vote on this resolution on Tuesday. Part of the resolution states that council will provide a "monetary supplement" for Jones' efforts in achieving the stretch objectives.