‘Third World conditions in Charleston’: Plans discussed to improve Gadsden Green

The fight for better living conditions in the Gadsden Green neighborhood continues.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The fight for better living conditions in the Gadsden Green neighborhood continues.

Gadsden Green is a property of the Charleston Housing Authority, a nonprofit that provides housing to citizens on low to moderate incomes.

State Representatives, Community Leaders and Gadsden Green Residents gathered Friday to talk about the plan to improve living conditions in the neighborhood.

Rats, black mold and leaking ceilings are just a few of the problems some families living in the Gadsden Green neighborhood said they are facing every day.

An attorney representing several of the residents, Vanisa Brown, said she has seen these conditions first-hand.

“It appears that, at a minimum, property management has adopted indifference and hostility toward the residents of Gadsden Green,” Brown said.

State Representative Wendell Gilliard, who called Friday’s meeting, said the Gadsden Green neighborhood has been neglected for far too long.

“Our responsibility as leaders in the community is to make sure that these children, these women, these men, have a quality of life,” Gilliard said.

Some of the actionable items presented at Friday’s meeting included inviting the Charleston Public Housing Director and representatives from DHEC and HUD to a walkthrough of the units on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

The Community Resource Center will be onsite at Monday’s walkthrough to hand out food, hygiene products and baby supplies to residents.

“We cannot have third-world conditions in Charleston, South Carolina,” Louis Smith, the executive director of the Community Resource Center, said. “At this point, it becomes a humanitarian issue.”

Gilliard said he’s also reached out to MUSC to get residents tested for impacts of mold and rat feces, and suggested Gadsden merges with the Westside Neighborhood Association to keep elected officials engaged.

“I feel a lot more hopeful, hopeful that, seeing so many people get involved and take the time out of their day to be here with us, hopefully, they can get something done,” Gadsden Green resident Brittany Muckelvaney said.

The Chairman of the board that oversees the Charleston Housing Authority, Herb Partlow, said it’s important to note that not every unit in the neighborhood is in disrepair.

He said since Live 5′s story aired last week staff initiated a “maintenance blitz” where they accessed all 264 units. They completed quick repairs and submitted work orders for more long-term projects. Partlow said he also took a tour of the units himself and wrote to city leaders.

“While looking at the story, I’ll be the first to say the conditions are unacceptable. The camera doesn’t lie. What I’ve told our team and the rest of our staff is we have to own it, first and foremost, make no excuses, and do something about it,” Partlow said.