Letter submitted from Chelsea Squire, 11 year resident of Wilbur Peck Court, dated Feb. 29, 2016
After living quietly in Wilbur Peck for 11 years, my four boys and I have quietly endured bed bugs and cockroaches and mold, but in recent years my oldest son has grown increasingly sick from respiratory problems and has been in and out of the emergency room.
Recent media attention to public housing in Greenwich gave me hope that my situation might change, that the Housing Authority might be pressured to work with me to get my unit up to inhabitable.
Instead I have been characterized as a poor housekeeper, which is simply not true. This unit is run down since it was built in 1953.
I remember the smell in this apartment when I first moved in. It smelled like fried chicken…I hated it. I am reaping effects of the previous tenants, as well as the same fridge and stove. It’s the original wallpaper in the cabinets. It’s just time, not only for bathroom fans, but the walls need to come out too.
I have scrubbed and cleaned since that day. I vacuum daily to keep on top of the cockroaches, but there is a wet spot behind the wall, where warm moist conditions have allowed an infestation to worsen over the years.
When I called HATG board chair Sam Romeo on his radio show I expected a bit of compassion. I heard he was brought in to address a bullying culture at HATG, but instead, it seems he’s become part of it. He immediately cut me off, which was upsetting – then he told me to calm down, calm down and take a deep breath, which is insulting. Then he accused me of lying and creating a “set up.” Then he hung up on me. That’s when this whole good housekeeping – victim-blaming campaign started.
I next called Peter Tesei on his radio show. He at least listened without interrupting, but he never called me back as he promised to.
The health department has been responsive, and I would recommend to anyone frustrated with the broken work-order system, and endless dance of “we came, we fixed it, but it’s not fixed” baloney, to address complaints with the health department instead of the housing authority.
I know there are older people in Wilbur Peck who have the means to buy nice furniture and pretty curtains. But they will have to pay to reinstall the original flooring, appliances and cabinetry when they leave, so why would I do that?
Besides, I am a full time working mother of four boys. When I have extra funds it goes to their care, not fancy furniture.
I felt like he was saying that if I had renovated then I wouldn’t have roaches and the other issues.
All it takes is one roach to make many and I’m worn down by the victim-blaming. This is all so exhausting.
All I can do is to keep applying to housing in Stamford. My current income is enough to qualify now. I will try and try.
I have come to the conclusion that in Greenwich they just don’t get it and like to keep the rich and poor dynamic in place.
I’ll continue the fight with my goal in mind of getting us out into a healthier, racially balanced environment where all people are treated the same, even in the local markets…where my children are not going to be disciplined greater than another based on the melanin in their skin.
I have been trying so hard to become self-sufficient. I’m not looking for a hand out, but some of these issues are just out of my control.
I can’t wait to go. Any housing development in Stamford would be better than this. I wake up though every day feeling blessed to be alive. I just know that it’s up to me to get out. I can’t just give up, but it’s frustrating to hear excuse after excuse. No responsibility on their part at all.
Chelsea M. Squire