gilpin courtBy Peter Galuszka

Heat and humidity seem to have been especially intense this summer. But it can be much worse at an inner city public housing project where there are few trees and other vegetation and lots of bricks and concrete that and retain heat.

So, wouldn’t a swimming pool seem nice, especially when your housing project already has one?

That’s what I thought when I visited Gilpin Court, one of Richmond’s 11 public housing projects. Housing 2,200 residents, many of them children, Gilpin is one of the worst ones run by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. It was built in the 1940s. Here’s my story in Style Weekly.

There is a swimming pool. But, the indoor basin has been shut down for three years and the RRHA says it can’t be fixed. “The pool is closed for maintenance and repairs and diminishing funds we have available,” a spokeswoman says.

In the meantime, the RRHA has been spending money on other things, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A list:

  • The RRHA spent $1,515 in 2012 to take 55 residents of Creighton Court, another project, for a bus charter to a West Virginia gambling casino.
  • The former RRHA police chief spent $900 on a television and more for cable services for an emergency operations center” that didn’t exist.He and his wife also got to go to a conference in San Diego with a side trip to Las Vegas.
  • Former authority chief executive Adrienne Goolsby, who resigned under a cloud in January, was being paid $183, 800 a year plus a $10,000 bonus. This is well above U.S. Department and Urban Development guidelines of $155,500 a year. The state governor makes less: $175,000.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to Goolsby last year asking for answers for these matters. His staff says he never got an answer.

Meanwhile, RRHA is being run by a temporary chief. No one seems to know when a permanent one will be appointed.

Gilpin children say they can swim at other city-owned pools or at Pocahontas State Park, which is 27 miles away.

One other takeaway: one hears a lot on this blog from writers about how the problems of poverty are a lack of personal responsibility. I guess if you grow up in a furnace like Gilpin, you just have to work harder.

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  1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

    Between this, the recent scandals at RDSS and the ongoing struggles of the RPS the city council and the Jones administration are proving themselves to be terrible at everything that doesn’t involve giving belly rubs to business interests. If that’s what I wanted my representatives to do I would just vote Republican…

    The conditions in the Richmond projects – pool issue aside – are unacceptable. I know the federal money for HUD has diminished over the years, but the Courts are in awful shape. As people – and tax revenue – flow back into the city repairs and construction are a nnecessity for the housing projects and the schools.

    As an aside, I see the commentors at Style are giving those at the RTD a competitive race for “Dumbest people in Richmond.”

  2. Peter, I’m glad to see you shining the light on the maladministration of Richmond’s public housing projects. Keep on digging! There’s a lot more to find.

    As for your gratuitous slap about how the “problems of poverty are a lack of personal responsibility,” I’ve never suggested that *all* problems of poverty are can be attributed to a lack of personal responsibility. A lot of the blame can be laid at the doorstep of inefficiently run government programs — like public housing. As a taxpayer, I insist upon making existing programs work before dumping more money into them.

    There’s a win-win proposition for which liberals and conservatives should be able to agree. If we’re going to spend billions on public housing subsidies, let’s at least make sure the programs are well run and accomplish the goals they are supposed to accomplish.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Just couldn’t resist

  4. larryg Avatar

    re: ” well run and accomplish the goals they are supposed to accomplish.”

    that seems to be a conundrum and I’d ask – is there a point where too little funding pretty much guarantees failure?

    1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      It depends on the mission of the organization and what success looks like.

      The failures at RRHA on a leadership level are almost certainly not about funding(unless dude was stealing cable because he’s doing the job of three people on one salary and his morale is in the toilet). The failure of RRHA to provide housing up to 21st century standards is assuredly a funding issue. I’d like to see a piece investigating their handling of Section 8, which when it works well provides an incredible opportunity for landlords and tenants both, but when it’s poorly handled serves no one.

      But for social services broadly, lack of funding is always going to lead to failures – either because there aren’t enough resources to get people what they need or because there is too few staff available to catch fraudulent claims.

  5. CrazyJD Avatar

    And that’s your problem, Peter. You just can’t resist arguing by assertion. You become a master of the irrelevant when you do so. It is always better to let the facts argue themselves, as you do in the rest of your article, which was very good, indeed.

    Take a lesson from what Jim does, which is almost always to lay out a plethora of facts based on his research. He tells you the limit of his knowledge. His approach is why his blog is well-respected. I just forwarded his piece on the Accomack Solar Project to a number of people around the country, who have responded in awe of his command of the subject matter. Now if he could only get paid more for what he does. 😉

  6. larryg Avatar

    I’d defend Peter. In my view he adds an important different perspective to BR and it’s in a different style than Jim.

    I think the type or criticism coming from CrazyJD is basically a personal attack that there is no justification for.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Thanks larry. Not sure what the point was anyway

  8. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim does get paid for what he writes

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