WASHINGTON DC (WECT) – Three leaders from the city of Wilmington traveled to Washington DC to champion the city’s cause and be the voice of more than 150 families, including more than 300 children, who have been displaced from their homes in due to mold problems.
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 issue with Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) properties.
Saffo said the talks focused on trying to get leaders to understand the scale of the problem and the unacceptable situation Wilmington finds itself in.
“We have more than 100 units that have already been mediated and are ready for handover, but we are short of funds and cash,” Saffo said.
Saffo said HUD officials will travel to Wilmington next week to assess units affected by the mold.
Councilman Waddell said the city is asking HUD for money to get hundreds of families back to their homes. He said they had managed to bring home the fact that 100 houses had already been restored and they just needed the money to equip them so people could go back.
The WHA board said at a meeting in February that it needed about $14 million to resolve the current situation; however, Saffo said he asked for more.
“What I understand, [what’s needed] for the first phase of that, was around $12-13 million,” Saffo said. “What I have asked, for the Wilmington Housing Authority, will be, in the worst case, to understand that there will be more residents who will be displaced due to mold problems. This figure is approximately $32 million.
He said they shared those numbers with HUD explaining the immediate need for $12-13 million to get all 100 units back online as quickly as possible. Then he said that the City was going to need additional funds for the different phases. He added that all leaders are very aware of the situation.
Saffo said his main goal was to bring displaced residents home as quickly as possible and to get funds as soon as possible.
“From my perspective, this is probably one of the biggest problems for any housing authority in the country,” Saffo said.
He also said the WHA hopes to have a new executive director appointed within the next two weeks.
According to the City of Wilmington Public Information Officer, top priorities for the trip include:
- Discuss ongoing Wilmington Housing Authority issues with the Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Strengthening the region’s infrastructure and building flood resilience with the Pew Charitable Trusts
- Advocate 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 Congress
The mayor and council arrived in Washington, DC on Monday, March 14 and will return to Wilmington on Wednesday, March 16.
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