Woman brings 'embryo egg' to council meeting, upset at living conditions
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A mother of three gave an emotional plea to Richmond City Council on Tuesday night, calling for better living conditions in the city's public housing neighborhoods.
Sha'Ronda Taylor says she moved out of Creighton Court due to lack of heating and a mice infestation that went on for months.
She says the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which manages the city's public housing properties, put her family in a hotel. However, Taylor says there was no stove to cook food.
Taylor says the ultimate stress of the situation caused her to lose her job and have a miscarriage. The woman held a container holding what she says is her miscarried fetus, in front of the City Council.
"Since I've been in this heating situation, and the mouse infested situation, I have quit my job because I had a miscarriage. This is a baby, and my embryo egg that I can no longer carry. I sat here watching people holding their babies in the back, when I'm holding my baby in this cup, that I have to take back in the freezer. So that's why I quit my job because why work through the poverty … why get up everyday, why educate myself … when we're getting no where not being heard or seen?"
WATCH TAYLOR'S CITY COUNCIL SPEECH:
Security ultimately approached Taylor to escort her away from the podium, as she had exceeded her allotted time limit. However, the City Council president allowed her to continue.
"You killed that girl that was in me, and now I have to fight, because everybody sitting here who needs to be removed, shall be removed," continued Taylor.
The Coalition for Better Housing forwarded a list of demands for more change within RRHA's structure, including replacing existing RRHA Board of Commissioner members, adding tenants to the Board, a re-evaluation of management before a new CEO is selected and helping the coalition's effort to educate residents on their rights as tenants.
RRHA's interim CEO Orlando Artze said that maintenance crews responded more than half a dozen times to Taylor's concerns while she and her children were still in the Creighton Court.
"Every time she contacted us about that, we responded," said Artze.
Artze said managers gave Taylor a Kroger gift card to help compensate for the lack of a stove in the hotel room. He said Taylor was moved to a new apartment with all of her furniture weeks ago, and that at one point, Taylor had threatened RRHA staff members.
Artze said additional attempts have been made to contact Taylor, following her speech at City Council. However, Artze said no one answered her number, nor was voicemail available. He said the RRHA would continue trying to further contact Taylor.
Artze said new leadership concerns would be brought forward with the Board of Commissioners, but City Council ultimately appoints members.
NBC12 reached out to all Richmond City Council members, the mayor's office and the RRHA Board of Commissioners.
RRHA Board of Commissioners cannot be directly emailed by the public, as Artze said they do not have RRHA-assigned email addresses. Anyone hoping to talk to a board member must attend a monthly meeting or contact an office representative first.
Artze said the RRHA would look into getting Board members email addresses.
RRHA Board of Commissioners receive a stipend for their service of about $1,200 per year. Artze said multiple members donate the stipend back to the RRHA.
RRHA Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Jones responded in an email that he would be glad to speak or meet with Taylor.
Jones writes, "We constantly work to maintain the properties with a focus on the health and safety of residents. Our federal funding has been decreasing, as the cost of maintaining our aging properties increases."
Jones said he would inquire about scheduling evaluations of senior management staffers, and that RRHA has conducted sessions in the past to helping tenants understand their rights and responsibilities.
NBC12 has not yet received responses from other commissioners or Richmond City Council members.
Jim Nolan, a spokesperson for Mayor Levar Stoney, wrote in an email in part:
Sha'Ronda Taylor's story is heartbreaking and disturbing. The Mayor believes her experience in public housing is unacceptable… The administration remains concerned about the conditions for many of our RRHA residents, and will continue to work closely with Council members, the RRHA Board, RRHA administrators and HUD to make progress toward long term solutions. The Mayor will be heading to Washington in the near future to meet with senior HUD officials about conditions and neglect in Richmond's HUD-funded public housing courts.
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