NEWARK - Nearly 100 people from across the city gathered at a housing authority meeting to have their complaints heard, but they received some sobering news.
Before residents could speak, Newark Housing Authority Executive Director Keith Kinard announced that the agency's budget woes mean that it will shift focus from large problems like boilers and roofs to everyday complaints like lights and locks.
Residents say deplorable conditions are making it difficult to live in their homes.
"It's obvious that we have some issues that have fallen through the cracks," says Kinard. NHA says it is behind on thousands of repairs.
NHA says it is working with $8 million less than last year and will get another $8 million less in the next fiscal year. About 80 percent of NHA's budget comes from federal funding and about 20 percent from residents' rent payments, according to the agency.
"HUD is out of low-income housing," Charles Bell, of the NHA board, says. "Thing of the past."
Residents responded by saying if the government is doing away with public housing, then let them fight for their homes. Some say that NHA board members had previously offered to organize buses to Washington to discuss the issue, but those buses never materialized.
Kinard is scheduled to meet with HUD officials in Washington on Wednesday.