The Newsroom: The Wilmington Housing Authority's slow-motion mold disaster
This week WHQR launched an investigative series into the Wilmington Housing Authority, looking at systemic mismanagement and miscommunication that's led to mold infestation getting out of control. On this episode of The Newsroom, co-hosted by WHQR's Ben Schachtman and Kelly Kenoyer, we'll put the pieces together, and dig even deeper into the story.
Many WHA residents say the mold issue started in 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Documents, including environmental tests and maintenance reports, show that WHA was aware of the issue in the summer of 2019.
In spite of that, WHA says its staff wasn't aware there was a serious problem until this January — it's hard to verify that claim, because WHA doesn't have a system for recording or organizing complaints. And the authority's board says it was in the dark even longer, not realizing the issue had become a crisis, with hundreds displaced, until this summer.
By then, WHA was too far behind to catch up. On top of that, internal disputes, restructuring, and resignations have gutted WHA's upper management — leaving behind a chaotic power vacuum with little experienced leadership left to manage the disastrous situation.
In the wake of mismanagement and administrative failures, it's Wilmington families — mothers, fathers, and children — who are paying the price. Their lives have been turned upside down, their possessions destroyed, their homes still unlivable.
And there are still few good answers from WHA on how they're going to right the ship, or prevent this from happening again. However, we've got a few of our own suggestions.
On this episode, we work through what we know so far, check in with our colleague Kevin Maurer, who helped report this story, and look ahead to what's next.
- Part I Wilmington Housing Authority's mold disaster: chronic mismanagement, soaring costs, and hundreds displaced
- Part II Ignored for years, tenants' lives are now turned upside down by WHA's mishandling of widespread mold
- Part III WHA is in 'a tailspin.' Residents are paying the price. Who's responsible?
- Part IV Behind hotel doors, a look at the lives disrupted by WHA's mismanagement
- Part V WHA is plagued by mold and has lost its leaders. What can be done to fix the mess?
- Mold 101 The spores plaguing Wilmington's housing authority can cause infections, allergic reactions, and asthma