Action 13 steps in to help mother waiting months for Houston Housing Authority inspection

Courtney Carpenter Image
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
ABC13 Renters' Rights gets to bottom of mom's 5-month inspection wait
A woman and her two small kids finally got the voucher they needed to move into a home after a one-year wait, but only to wait five more months when the Houston Housing Authority didn't act on the required home inspection.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In this week's Renters' Rights, we introduce you to a mother who was at the end of her rope, waiting for months on the Houston Housing Authority to inspect the apartment she was set to move into.

Her voucher had been approved. A health and safety inspection stood between her being able to provide her children with a stable place to live.

"I am kind of at the point where something is going to break, and I am trying not to let it be me," she explained.

When we met this mother with two young children earlier this month, she told us that she thought she'd soon be in her apartment after waiting a year to get a housing voucher. What she didn't realize was how long she would have to wait for it to be inspected.

SEE ALSO: Action 13 Renters' Rights looks into the future of rent as costs climb

"Why aren't we worth enough to you to just answer the phone or respond to an email? Tell me what's going on," she asked.

She says she called and emailed the housing authority for five months, who either gave her the runaround or didn't respond. All while she worked full-time, she struggled to pay for another week in a hotel while waiting for the inspection.

Action 13 reached out to the Houston Housing Authority about this woman's situation. Within hours of our call, inspectors were sent out to do the job she had been waiting months to get done.

A few days later, the woman and her children were finally able to move in.

"My kids have like true joy, and they are safe, and that's all I care about, that they are in one stable environment," she explained.

David Northern, the president and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority agrees this woman shouldn't have waited for an inspection as long as she did.

"Her situation is regretful for us in the sense that she had to wait, knowing she was in need. We have over 60,000 people that we serve currently on our programs, and so hearing a story like that, even though it's one individual, it's really hurtful. So that makes us look at our process, our planning, and figure out what we can do to meet that challenge of moving people along that spectrum of leasing up the units faster," said Northern.

He says staffing shortages are part of the problem, and he is looking to nearly double the number of inspectors they currently have.

In addition, after opening an internal investigation into what went wrong, the housing authority says they recognize they need to improve the process and put a system into place that will help bring attention to cases that are taking longer than usual.

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