Tape details deterioration

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 10, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 10, 1999

LAPLACE – The jumpy, erratically-shot videotape details everything from rotted walls, broken pipes and mouseholes in various units of St. JohnParish public housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development received thisvideotape from people determined to correct the problems, including Sheila Morris of the St. John Parish Housing Authority Board and KalanthaJackson of the Residents’ Council.

So far, the result has been the dismissal of the Housing Authority Board by the St. John Parish Council, in action taken Tuesday night.No one’s face is seen in the videotape, save for a child darting across view from time to time. The first scene, shot on May 18, according to the datestamp, indicates plumbing problems in a bathroom, where the floor is rotted away around a toilet.

“You moved in here with all this ***?” an unidentified woman’s voice is heard asking the tenant.

The scene shifts to a kitchen, where cabinets are rotting away and electrical wiring dangles from broken light fixtures. Poor caulking arounda bathtub is shown, as well as broken door locks.

The next scene, shot May 18, shows mildewed and peeling floor tiles near a refrigerator. It then shifts to the concrete landing behind a second floorapartment with a crack running across the entire slab. Rust and rotcharacterize the stairs.

Next, on May 21, a closet door knocked off its hinge is shown. This isfollowed by a view of a bathtub where the wall around the fixtures is completely gone, blocked by a sagging piece of cardboard.

“Oh, Lord, no!” comes the voiceover. “You see that?”The woman continued, “We’re going to revise the lease, and you’re coming to that meeting! That’s a damned shame!” One tenant complains of having to kill spiders which regularly invade her apartment and another points out a mousehole. “That’s where the mousecomes from, right there,” a resident’s voice says.

Some repair work, poorly done, is shown of a hole broken in a wall.

The videotape was forwarded to state and federal officials, including the Louisiana Congressional delegation.

Return To News Stories