State representatives respond to living conditions at Gadsden Green

Residents of one downtown Charleston neighborhood are invited to meet with State Representative Wendell Gilliard to discuss their living conditions.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 3:13 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 9:59 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Residents of one downtown Charleston neighborhood were invited to meet with State Representative Wendell Gilliard to discuss their living conditions Monday evening.

Gilliard said he called the “urgent” community meeting after he saw Live 5′s coverage of the “appalling” living conditions in the Gadsden Green neighborhood.

The meeting will be held at the Arthur Christopher Gym on Fishburne Street at 5 p.m.

“I did not know all of this was happening at Gadsden Green until I saw the segment on Channel 5,” Gilliard said. “I was appalled, it brought me to tears.”

For some background, Gadsden Green is a property of the Charleston Housing Authority. The Charleston Housing Authority is an independent nonprofit that seeks to provide housing to citizens on low to moderate incomes

Gilliard said something needs to be done about residents’ current living conditions, and that providing Gadsden Green residents with the quality of life they deserve is the local government’s responsibility.

At Monday’s meeting, residents listed issues including rats, holes from rats, mold and mildew, pipe issues, leaking ceilings and skyrocketing electricity bills from faulty air conditioning.

”If this situation was reversed, would you allow your family members to live like this or would you live like this” Gadsden Green resident Vanessa Brown said.

Gilliard suggested creating a neighborhood association for elected officials to stay in touch with what’s happening in the Gadsden Green community. He said he would continue to meet with residents to bring the current living conditions to the Charleston Housing Authority’s attention.

“We are not just meeting just to meet; this is a movement. Because for far too long, Gadsden Green has suffered,” Gilliard said.

Vanisa Brown, an attorney who is representing Brown and several other residents, was also in attendance. She encouraged more Gadsden Green residents to share their stories because “there is strength in numbers.”

“The amount of people I see here, I know for a fact it’s not even a fourth of the residents,” Vanisa Brown said. “That’s a problem that more of you all aren’t here. I need you to help me help you all.”

Charleston Housing Authority Officials said their Chief Operating Officer attended Monday’s meeting, but they do not have a comment at this time.

Representative Deon Tedder issued the following statement after learning about the Gadsden Green neighborhood:

I am deeply concerned about the reports of unsafe and unacceptable living conditions at Gadsden Green Homes. No one deserves to live in such conditions, especially our children. Last week I reached out to the Charleston Housing Authority to work on finding a solution to these issues so they can be addressed quickly.

I am grateful that the Charleston Housing Authority is taking these issues seriously and is quickly taking action to address them. Regardless of your zip code or income level, everyone deserves the right to quality housing. I will continue to check in with Director Milligan to ensure that the necessary repairs are being done and that Gadsden Green residents have a safe and healthy place to live.