Residents at a Windsor housing community that houses the elderly and disabled are calling for continued change after facing what they say was years of abuse by former management. While there is new, interim leadership at the Windsor Housing Authority, residents say some improvements like maintenance and emergency equipment still need attention.
“We want to build a community back a safe community,” Taariq Jaamal said.
Jaamal says since 2018 it’s been more than just a dark cloud hanging over Millbrook Village in Windsor.
NBC Connecticut was at a rally in January at Millbrook Village when residents called for the Windsor Housing Authority’s executive director’s resignation, citing years of ongoing maintenance issues they say were often outright ignored and a rehabilitation project that was at a standstill. Since then the executive director has been fired from the job and a nearby housing authority appointed interim management, but residents say there are still top-line agenda items that need to be addressed.
“Bugs those things and maintenance problems and emergency equipment should be in the units are not there yet,” Jaamal said.
“I’ve just been laying low but everybody else here has been so hurt and pushed by these people it has to be moved along,” Karen Savluk said.
Adam Gutcheon, Chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Windsor Housing Authority released a statement. It reads in part, “What occurred at the Windsor Housing Authority over the past three years was a failure of management and a failure to govern."
See the full statement from Gutcheon below.
“I just want be able to live with just peace and quiet and not have to hassle with this stuff every day,” Vicky Arnesean said.
While improvements are in the works, Jaamal says closure and a change in management culture will be key to turning a new page.
“Our goal is to close this umbrella and once the umbrella closed the sunshine will come back and we will have a community and soul again,” Jamaal said.
Full Statement from Adam Gutcheon, Chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Windsor Housing Authority
"What occurred at the Windsor Housing Authority over the past three years was a failure of management and a failure to govern. In the short term, the Board of Commissioners has engaged the Meriden Housing Authority to rebuild our management capacity. They've already gotten the Millbrook Village reconstruction project finally on track for completion by the end of the summer. In the long term, the Board is rebuilding its capacity to govern--first and foremost by listening to all our stakeholders with open hearts and minds.”
"The most important thing is that the rehab itself is being managed professionally from our end and is close to completion. Having the work finished will make solving other issues at Millbrook significantly easier. We switched to a new 24/7 maintenance request service just last week. Under previous management, the maintenance line was something of a black hole: the phone was rarely answered and the voice mailbox was constantly full. Many work order requests that were received were never logged or followed up on. Under the system and with our new leadership, that should be in the past. Resident Services staff is also in the process of scheduling meetings at each site to ask residents directly about maintenance issues and log them immediately.
"At our last Board meeting, we heard from a lot of residents who expressed frustration that the pace of change was not as quick as they'd hoped. I explained that the work done by our new leadership in their first month is like an iceberg: there's a lot under the surface, but only 10% is visible. We were left with serious fiscal problems that need to be fixed before we expand our ambitions; management has made great progress on those while securing control of our assets and systems. They will present their financial and management findings and a plan to address them at our July 21 meeting. I expect the pace of progress to accelerate when these major initial back office challenges are solved."