Man with broken heater in Richmond apartment asks for help: ‘My kids are getting sick’

RICHMOND, Va. -- A resident of the Hillside Court apartment complex reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers for help with a broken radiator in his unit.

William Lynch told CBS 6 the radiator in his kitchen was not working and he had filed a work order with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA), which manages the property, last week, but no one had come to address the issue until Wednesday.

William Lynch

William Lynch

RRHA CEO Damon Duncan told CBS 6 in an email that the most recent work order related to Lynch’s unit was from Friday, November 8. He added that “RRHA takes every maintenance complaint seriously—particularly those related to heating. However, because only one radiator in this unit was not operational, the request was not deemed an emergency, and a service call to the unit was scheduled for today. The family requesting the service call was notified in advance that repairs were scheduled for today.”

Duncan said that RRHA staff determined they did not have the tools and materials needed to fix the radiator, so “an independent contractor was issued an emergency Notice to Proceed work to correct the radiator. (This is common in servicing RRHA’s aging heat infrastructure, for which parts are no longer easy to find.)”

Richmond’s Hillside Court

Richmond’s Hillside Court

Lynch told CBS 6 he had lived in the unit since June 2016 and claimed the radiator in the kitchen had not worked during that entire time. Duncan said that claim was “inaccurate.”

“RRHA’s service call records indicate that an independent contractor serviced the radiator in December of 2018, at which time the radiator was deemed operational. RRHA maintenance staff also serviced the radiator in December of 2017, after which the radiator was found to operate correctly,” wrote Duncan.

Lynch added that in past years when the radiator was not working, RRHA would provide a space heater for the kitchen. He said he was told this year he would not be provided one because the other radiators in the house were working. RRHA told CBS 6 if the radiator was not fully operational before the end of business on Wednesday, Lynch would be given a space heater until heat is restored permanently and added he would not be charged for the repairs or the space heater.

"RRHA fields thousands of service calls every month. In this environment, RRHA must continue to prioritize maintenance requests based on the urgency of the issue. This approach is an unfortunate necessity for contemporary public housing, which suffers a nationwide capital funding shortage numbering in the tens of billions. While we will continue to invest every resource needed to keep our communities decent, safe, and sanitary, we believe these issues only underscore the urgency of RRHA’s revitalization efforts,” wrote Duncan.

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Need help? Contact the CBS 6 Problem Solvers.

Need help? Contact the CBS 6 Problem Solvers.

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