Nowhere Else to Go

In February 2014, The Center for Investigative Reporting published a story exposing the deplorable living conditions of housing projects in Richmond, California. I produced 90-second audio slideshows that complemented the reporting by Amy Julia Harris. These vignettes illustrate how three residents were forced to rely on the faulty safety net meant to catch the disabled and elderly.

Below is an excerpt of the story and the three slideshows:

Here in Richmond, some of the poorest, oldest and most vulnerable people in the Bay Area live in squalor and fear due to the housing agency’s mismanagement and neglect, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

There were at least 16 life-threatening health and safety violations at the five public housing projects managed by the housing authority, according to the two most recent years of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports. Seniors and disabled residents lived amid exposed wiring and missing smoke detectors and fire alarms. Most well-kempt housing projects don’t have these major health and safety violations, HUD says.

Nearly 1 in 5 apartments in the Hacienda and Nevin Plaza complexes are infested with insects and cockroaches, inspection records show.

Then there are the indignities that don’t show up in formal government reports …

Juanita Hasnat, 47, worked as a nurse for 10 years before contracting MRSA, a flesh-eating bacteria. The treatment resulted in the amputation of both her legs. She has lived in Nevin Plaza for four years.

Everett Dennis Lewis, 61, has lived in Hacienda for two years. Lewis has been in the process of rebuilding his life after a 30-year drug addiction.

Eddie Williams, 62, has lived in Nevin Plaza for six years. A retired janitor, he spends his time taking care of his aging mother and preaching and praying with other residents.