RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People living in Gilpin Court say they have been living in fear for months after dozens of doors were removed from their homes. 8News reached out to the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) who said they intended to replace the doors but have been delayed.
According to the RRHA, the back doors — which lead to common hallways in the building — were taken off in mid-November. As many as 57 doors were removed from units on Hickory Street, St. Paul Street and West Charity Street.
According to RRHA, the doors were removed because the poor condition they were in posed a health and safety risk to residents. They also said there were concerns about potentially illegal activity within the hallways of the units.
However, according to the authority, the manufacturer providing new doors reported a delay and the replacements never arrived.
Sparkle Taylor — a seven-year Gilpin Court resident — said removing her back door stripped away her sense of safety and security.
“We’ve had a lot of crime go up in the area recently,” Taylor said. “We’ve had a lot of different things happen. And to create a situation where we’re less safe than before — where I’m from they call that a setup from the getup.”
In addition to the risk of violence, Taylor said her family has been struggling to stay warm without the back door. She remembered when the temperatures dipped during the arctic blast in December.
“Our heat situation is very, very weak,” she said.
Taylor told 8News she has been using trash bins to create a barrier between the outside and the inside of her unit.
“This created problems that weren’t in existence for all of us before,” she added. “I feel like there’s a lot more to this than just ‘Oh we’re just people that don’t think straight and don’t foresee any issues with taking off doors months before we can get them replaced.’ RHHA needs to get it together.”
The RRHA says that new doors are scheduled to arrive by Feb. 13. The doors will have a panic bar feature which means they will automatically close when someone exits.
CEO Steven Nesmith was unavailable for an interview at the time of this reporting, however, RRHA released the following statement:
RRHA is well aware of the issue of the doors being removed and have been in regular contact with the impacted residents having provided updates at the Gilpin Community meeting. See the attached flyers that were distributed in our communities – the most recent “STATUS UPDATE” was handed out just yesterday to the impacted residents.
We’ve also made sure that the Resident Tenant Organizations (Resident leaders) and our Board of Commissioners are aware with regular status updates. The doors were initially removed because they were a health and safety risk to the residents because of their condition. The manufacturer reported that there has been a delay in the arrival of the doors, but once they arrive they will be installed immediately. The new doors that will be installed will have a “panic” bar feature which will allow them to close automatically when someone exits.
Nesmith also added that residents should report suspicious activity to the Richmond Police Department and the RRHA Gilpin Management Office.
“The replacement doors are slated to arrive mid-February and will be installed shortly thereafter,” he said.