Rev. Jesse Turner, president of Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, Inc., and ICVR board member and mayoral candidate Peter Daniels gathered with several supporters at the home of Pine Bluff resident Tonya Moore on Monday afternoon to point out what they say is a pattern of substandard work and a lack of response from officials with Pine Bluff Economic and Community Development.

Rev. Jesse Turner, president of Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, Inc., and ICVR board member and mayoral candidate Peter Daniels gathered with several supporters at the home of Pine Bluff resident Tonya Moore on Monday afternoon to point out what they say is a pattern of substandard work and a lack of response from officials with Pine Bluff Economic and Community Development.

Daniels said ICVR stepped in when Moore contacted his organization after reportedly being unable to get an answer from the city in response to her allegations that the four-year old-house she lives in with her elderly mother on Persimmon Street has numerous problems stemming from substandard construction on the part of PBECD.

“When citizens got no response from the city they called us and we started to investigate what was going on,” Daniels said. “We started checking it out and something did not smell right. Ms. Moore’s home is only four years old. She has not received the support she was promised.”

“Tonya Moore initiated the call to ICVR,” Daniels said. “We looked at the house and saw shoddy construction. Promises were made and not kept. The plumbing is out of order. It’s just ridiculous the shape that this house is in.”

Daniels said ICVR has attempted to get officials with the federal Housing and Urban Development office in Little Rock to come to Pine Bluff to investigate the allegations but that so far there has been no response.

“Out of the 100 homes that Mayor [Carl A.] Redus brags about we need to get the addresses for those homes and go visit these homes,” Daniels said. “This housing is primarily for our senior citizens and indigent residents so we expect that they will be built correctly.

“A $71,000 grant was given to build this home but the construction quality falls well below where it should be,” Daniels said. “She was given no warranties for the house.”

Daniels said HUD should conduct an investigation into possible financial malfeasance on the part of PBECD.

Resident complaints

Moore said that she simply wants her home to be repaired.

“We just want the house repaired how it should be,” Moore said. “I want my mother to have a safe place to live.”

Sue Jiner said that PBECD was supposed to have rebuilt her house 10 years ago but has yet to do anything.

“I have three lots on Ohio Street,” Jiner said. “My house is in the middle lot and there are vacant lots on either side of my house. My house is deteriorating. I shouldn’t have to move. It’s the city’s fault. I am taking care of my two great grandsons. They are 6 and 7 years old. I have been promised a reconstructed house for at least 10 years and nothing has been done. It shouldn’t be this way. There are homes that the city has worked on that weren’t as bad off as mine is.”

Jiner said that the city was supposed to close on the contract to rebuild her house July 17 and then again Aug. 17 but that the city missed each deadline.

“It’s August 27 and I’m still waiting,” Jiner said.

Turner said HUD representatives need to investigate the situation.

“These are some people that need some help,” Turner said. “HUD needs to take a look. Between 2004 and now things have gotten worse.”

City response

When asked to respond to the allegations made against the city, Redus said that he was not aware of any problems with the homes that the PBECD had a hand in constructing or repairing and that the concerns of city residents are addressed.

“I have not heard any complaints about the Economic and Community Development Department,” Redus said. “We don’t build substandard houses in this community and we always speak with any resident who has concerns.”

PBECD director Donald Sampson did not return a message.