More units at Swanson Homes in Portsmouth condemned, residents say

A notice on a unit at Swanson Homes condemning the residence. (Photo courtesy: Toia Brown)
A notice on a unit at Swanson Homes condemning the residence. (Photo courtesy: Toia Brown)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side has learned that a plan is in motion for residents living in Swanson Homes.

Last week, 32 families found “condemned” signs on their front doors. The action comes after the residents had no heat or hot water for the weeks following Hurricane Matthew.

After a meeting Wednesday with the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority (PRHA), residents tell WAVY News they’ll be remaining in hotels temporarily and eventually moving into Lincoln Park properties as crews continue to make repairs to the Swanson Homes units.

Portsmouth inspectors check on repairs at PRHA-run Swanson Homes

Residents said more families discovered their homes had been condemned Wednesday. Most said they don’t want to spend weeks in hotels, where they can’t cook or have the school bus pick up their kids.

“Here it is, Thanksgiving… I have four kids. They look forward every year for Thanksgiving,” said resident, Shante Smith. “We got Christmas coming up and we’re going to be in someone else’s space for two to four months they said.”

Help on the way for Swanson Homes residents, but could more have been done?

In the meantime, residents said they have until Friday to get their things. However, they can only retrieve only items on the second floor.

Teresa Williams said people aren’t supposed to keep contaminated belongings on the first floor due to mold and other risks.

“My children’s’ ashes are in there,” Williams said. “I want my babies. I don’t care about none of the material things, just let me take my babies. They’re on the first floor, so they’re trying to say I can’t get them. That’s all I want.”

Williams said she was told she would need to sign a medical waiver to enter the property at all. Seeing that her and her children have asthma, she’s unsure about what to do.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “There has to be a better way to handle it.”

Another resident told 10 On Your Side he wasn’t aware of the meeting on Wednesday. He said no one called him, and he only found out after his girlfriend checked their mail at the condemned home, where they hadn’t been staying.

10 On Your Side reached out to PRHA, but have not yet heard back.