RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Just days after the Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority (RRHA) gained ownership of the Grace Place apartments, a burst pipe flooded the building leaving forcing some tenants out on Christmas Eve.

Some of the damage from the bust pipe still remains with caution tape and orange cones surrounding the building as a warning to passersby.

Bridgette Whitacker, a community member who works near the apartment complex, says that a number of issues have been reported from the apartment complex over the years.

“So I’m just, you know, really getting tired of a lot of things being swept under the carpet as it relates to human care, citizen care, affordable housing, you name it,” she said.

In October 2021, 8News reported an incident at the apartments in which dozens of residents were unable to return to their beds after the building was deemed unlivable following a City inspection.

Residents in the area were hopeful that RRHA’s acquisition of the building — announced on Tuesday, Dec. 20 — would be a step in the right direction. The housing authority took over the apartment complex after the previous owners failed to pay property taxes. RRHA began had already started evaluating the building for areas in need of work.

“I’ve been in that building myself,” said Stephen Nesmith, the CEO of RRHA. “While I am not an engineer, what I witnessed were obvious infrastructure and other safety hazards throughout the entire building.” 

Although the timing of the burst pipe was unfortunate, it has not yet dampened the hopes of the community. Whitacker says she still believes that RRHA’s intervention will make conditions liveable for tenants in the future.

“Hopefully now that RRHA has taken over, we can get some real answers on exactly what the plan is for this building here,” Whitacker said.

Angela Fountain, VP of Communications at RRHA, said the housing authority is paying for affected tenants to stay at a nearby hotel while the extent of the damage is evaluated.

It is still unclear what the impact of the flooding will be on the housing authority’s plans to renovate the building. However, according to Fountain, it has likely thrown a wrench in the works.

“We can’t say for certain,” she said, “but I would imagine.”