Public Housing Controversy

Public Housing Controversy
By: Arnold Wyrick
Saline Co., IL - An anonymous letter sent to Heartland News, along with pictures of public housing units in Saline County got our attention. In the letter the person states that the Saline County Housing Authority is not maintaining properties on an equal basis. In one photo of the units in Harrisburg, it's plain to see the new siding on one of the apartment buildings. In another photo of the units in Carrier Mills, it's plain to see the walls are rotting on the buildings.
So we took the letter and pictures to the Saline County Housing Authority to have them explain what's going on.
Our first question for Ed Littlefield the Modernization Coordinator for the board, was the comment in the letter about the "white people's" units being kept up better then the "black people's" units.
"We are color blind. We have both whites and blacks living in all of the public housing units throughout the county," Littlefield said.
The next question, what's going on then within the maintenance of the buildings?
"We are on a 5 year capital improvement plan. I know it seems that they might think we don't care about them, and we're putting them off. But we have issues that we need to address there in Carrier Mills before we spend a lot of money there," Littlefield said.
The issues he's talking about involve high water around, and sometimes in the units when it rains heavily.
"And it's not good sound business judgement to renovate a unit that gets water in it," Littlefield said.
So board members decided to use this past years funds on the Harrisburg units, and others throughout the county.
"They did put new lights out here for security reasons, and that's good. And they did the outside of the buildings, they've renovated these and they look really nice," says Terry Kienath of Harrisburg.
But in Carrier Mills it's plain to see the outside of their homes don't look as nice. Although Rhonda Jakes tells Heartland News she's seen some changes in the past couple of weeks.
"They seem to be doing everything that needs to be done. They've been to almost every apartment. I think they have two units left. They're doing the inside, and then they say come Spring they'll start on the outside. They getting it together finally," said Jakes of Carrier Mills.
Meanwhile the board has been struggling with their priority items, after being cut $200,000.00 dollars in their Federal Funding this past year.
"Each year a team of inspectors from HUD come in and rate us on a point system, as far as our maintenance on the buildings, spending our money, and the safety of our units. This year they docked us on our sidewalks and parking lots. So we're going to work on all of those to bring our scores back up in order to increase our funding," Littlefield said.