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Congressman calls for immediate change to ‘unhealthy conditions’ at Essex Village

HENRICO, Va. – In response to a series of reports on what leaders called failed living conditions at a Henrico complex, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) called for an immediate change from property managers.

About 1,600 people who earn a low-income wage live in Essex Village, a Section 8 housing complex next to the Richmond International Raceway in Henrico's East End.

After several weeks of documentation by CBS6, which took viewers inside the deplorable conditions suffered by residents, Congressman McEachin responded with a call for equality, improvement, and accountability. [Read: Investigation uncovers mice, roaches, sewage and mold at Henrico complex]

“No family deserves to live in conditions such as the one documented at Essex Village,” McEachin said in a released statement.” All individuals – no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation – should be treated fairly and have safe and clean shelter.”

“The property managers must address these unhealthy conditions immediately,” he continued. “The families who call this community home, should be able to rest easy in a safe environment after a long day at work and school, not worry about the living conditions.”

Black substance growing on the wall at Essex Village

In summer 2016, Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas created a task force led by Deputy County Manager Colonel Doug Middleton, aimed at improving the quality of life at the complex.

By November, county building inspectors opened 140 code violation cases at Essex Village.

Then in January 2017, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave Essex Village an "F" grade.

HUD said the owner, California-based GHC Housing Partners, which, according to its website, is the fourth largest affordable housing provider in the nation, receives nearly $5.4 million in taxpayer dollars a year to subsidize the rent of residents at Essex Village.

Holes in wall at Essex Village apartment

GHC Housing Partners owns more than 20,000 affordable housing units in 24 states.

Middleton and Vithoulkas said they want to know how that money is being used.

"It's disgusting to me that anyone drawing federal funds to the level they were drawing them to get into the condition it was in and not care," Middleton said.

Continue reading an investigative report on Essex Village by CBS 6 Melissa Hipolit.