Oakland Housing agrees to settle lawsuit

October 15, 2008 11:16:08 PM PDT
The Oakland Housing Authority has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the city attorney last year. The housing authority, accused of being Oakland's biggest slumlord, is now agreeing to clean up its property.

Latrina Simon moved into an Oakland housing project in May and she's already got a laundry list of complaints starting with the laundry. Whenever she washes clothes, or dishes for that matter, water drains into the backyard, where her four young children play. The toilet's also broken and the screen door is broken too.

"It doesn't flush. You have to take this off and push it down to use the bathroom," said Simon, an Oakland Housing Authority resident.

"See. It's coming down," said Latrina Simon.

And then there was the time Simon came home to find the upstairs water heater leaking onto the ceiling above her son's bedroom.

"And before we got right in the threshold of the door, the whole ceiling collapsed," said Simon.

ABC7 has obtained a copy of the settlement agreement reached between the Oakland City Attorney's Office and the Oakland Housing Authority. The housing agency will inspect problem sites once a week and respond to complaints within two business days, moves it says "Demonstrate its strong commitment to its tenants and to the maintenance and upkeep of its properties."

"Through this lawsuit, we have established a new set of standards and the Oakland Housing Authority can be judged in terms of success or failure by how it lives up to standards," said John Russo, the Oakland City Attorney.

The Oakland Housing Authority operates 3,300 units of housing in the city, making it Oakland's largest landlord. While it gets about $8 million a year in federal funding for repairs, it has about $160 million worth of problems.

Housing Authority Executive Director Jon Gresley says the agency is now focused on repairing aging facilities, like the one Simon lives in which is 35 years old.

"We have long maintained that without adequate funding we can't properly take care of our property," said Gresley.

If the housing authority isn't able to hold up its end of the deal because of that funding shortage, the city attorney says he'll file another suit if he has to. Both sides are expected to sign off on the settlement in coming weeks.


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