Durham mom's apartment plagued with feces, missing drain pipe, leaking tub

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Maintenance problems continue to plague some residents who live in housing owned and maintained by the Durham Housing Authority.

Artisha Townes who lives in Oxford Manor got fed up waiting for repairs, so she got in touch with Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

"I am pretty sure they would not live like this," Townes said.

The mother of three had several issues -- her first being a bathroom on her first floor that's been unusable for weeks.

"I had to put towels down to drain the water up and there was feces," Townes said.

She had to block off access to that bathroom because the smell was so bad.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has put other issues on the front burner for people living in McDougald Terrace, like Brittany Bass--who is working hard for herself and her two children.

Her next issue involved her bathroom on her second floor. There was a leak that seeped through the ceiling below the bathroom.

"This is where I sit at to do my kid's virtual learning, and right over my head is where I feel like it will fall in -- as every time they take a shower, it leaks."

Water from the leak dripped right down onto where Townes' children did their school work virtually every day.

Another big problem involved her kitchen sink. On one side of her sink, below the drain, the pipe wasn't connected.

"When I run the water, it goes straight in the bucket. I have to empty that every time it gets full, you know how frustrating that is?" Townes said.

Townes said she reported the issues several times to her property managers and maintenance staff.

She said this was their response: "Due to COVID, because you have two bathrooms, as long as you have one working bathroom, (we) are not going to rush to fix it."

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McDougald Terrace drew national attention in late 2019 when hundreds of Durham residents were evacuated and multiple hospitalized due to high levels of carbon monoxide.

Once Wilson saw Townes' problems, she got in touch with the Director of the Durham Housing Authority, Anthony Scott. Scott responded immediately and personally, showed up at Townes' home.

"I was surprised he was knocking on my front door and wanted to come in and see what was going on himself. He got on his hands and knees in the bathroom upstairs and said let me see the issues," Townes said.

Townes said Scott assured her DHA would get right on it to fix the issues.

The kitchen sink now has a pipe so the water can drain properly. The ceiling above where her children work has been fixed, and the leak in the first-floor toilet has been fixed.

Townes and her kids are grateful for the swift action after getting ABC11 involved.

"Thank you so much; I am blessed because it was hard living like that."

She also said she appreciates how fast Scott took action.

If you are having problems with your rental, document the issues with photos and report the problems to management in writing.
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