Wilbur Peck Resident: Any housing development in Stamford would be better than this

letter to the editorLetter 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

  • Anthony L. Johnson, HATG Executive Director

    This tenant has been unprepared for extermination several times.
    Response to todays visit to Ms. Squire’s apartment regarding her complaint of infestation. As you know, we visited the unit last week and treated the unit for insects. During that inspection the unit was not properly prepared for effective treatment, however it was performed anyway. A follow-up treatment was scheduled at that same time with instructions on how to prepare for the proper and effective treatment . That preparation was not performed by the tenant.

    Today HATG had, exclusively for this complaint, two exterminators and three maintenance workers at Ms. Squire’s apartment prepared to perform a detailed extermination and other work as necessary. As you can see, the tenant was not prepared. This is a common occurrence with some tenants which leads to ineffective and repeated treatments that are costly and unnecessary if the proper cooperation is obtained.

    We will continue to work with Ms. Squire, but preparation and cooperation is essential.

  • Dawn Fortunato

    It was found that there are about 8 units with bed bugs and a dozen with roach infestations. (last paragraph pg 3) http://www.greenwichhousing.org/pdf/2.24.2016_GreenwichHousing_BoardMtgMinutesDraft.pdf
    WHATTTTT I would be outraged as a tenant. Guess this is no big deal to the HATG that their tenants are living with such unsuitable living conditions. Had Ms. Squire not come forward and raise awareness this would only continue. One has to wonder if this is being passed along into the homes of Julian Curtis and GHS students. Thumbs up to Ms. Squire for coming forward. Thumbs down to HATG that these conditions still exist. The roaches were there 30 years ago and never left!

    To all the Wilbur Peck Court residents…..Want fast results? Trap your roaches and call the health department. Watch here for instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgliFGNmQps

  • Cheslea Squire

    Before trying to form a reason to evict me because you’re mad…you and I both know that to say I was unprepared several times is a lie. I have photos of my preparations. I admit the first extermination scheduled, I was not prepared as there was a delay for the schools that morning but, several times..is just a lie.
    It’s weird to see you comment here, but you’ve never contacted me directly even after I emailed you regarding this lie.
    Please note: this is not an attack on any individual employed with the Greenwich Housing Authority, however, it is vital to the residents’ health that you all make the correct decisions when it comes to allocating funds, and do what’s right for the people here in housing. That’s all I’m saying.