‘We have nowhere to go:’ Homeless mother has to wait 3 years for RRHA housing

Posted at 10:51 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 23:18:03-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- LuJoy Smith and her son Mason built a life without a home for more than three years. The pair, who are homeless, have lived out of crates and slept on people’s floors along the way.

Smith applied for public housing in June of 2013 with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

“We have nowhere to go,” Smith said.

She ended up on a waiting list.

LuJoy Smith and her son Mason

LuJoy Smith and her son Mason

RRHA’s Chief Operating Officer, Carol Jones-Gilbert, said the average wait time on the list is three years.

“It’s just an immense need for affordable housing,” Jones-Gilbert said.

Yet, two previous CBS 6 investigations found a number of families living in RRHA housing who exceed income limits by thousands of dollars.

Families must prove they make below a certain income to qualify for public housing, but there is no law requiring eviction once their income goes over that number.

“It’s not fair, the people who actually need the help can’t get the help,” Smith said.

Jones-Gilbert said RRHA sent a letter this past June to Smith’s last known address and offered her an appointment.


“It was returned saying the forwarding had expired,” Jones-Gilbert said.

But, Smith said she never received the letter because she no longer lives there.

Smith claims she gave RRHA a new address when she moved.

Jones-Gilbert said RRHA has no record of the change.

“That’s why I wanted to extend to her the opportunity to provide documentation or verification that she had updated the address,” Jones-Gilbert said.

Per RRHA policy, Smith cannot reapply for another year.

LuJoy Smith and her son Mason

LuJoy Smith and her son Mason

“I’ve also got 623 people on the wait list whose situations could be as desperate or similar to hers. I have got to make sure I am not infringing on their rights to housing to make an accommodation to Miss Smith,” Jones-Gilbert said.

That means Mason starts pre-k with no permanent home in the near future.

“It’s not fair to him nor is it fair to me,” Smith said.

Jones-Gilbert said if Smith can produce the receipt she received when she changed her address, she will look further into the situation.

But, Smith said she lost a lot of important things while moving around and has no idea where she put the receipt.



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