Greensboro Housing Authority director Robert Motley and his staff of five commissioners take their jobs very seriously, especially during a worldwide pandemic.
On Monday, March 1, Motley spoke in front of the Greensboro City Council to give an update on how things are going. Among other things, he highlighted that he and his crew supplied hundreds of residents with personal protective equipment (PPE) earlier this year as the spike in COVID-19 cases happened following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
He also spoke about how the housing community was doing in response to the pandemics In an interview with the Lake Oconee News, Motley talked more in-depth about what his job entails and what his crews’ responsibilities are.
“Once or twice a year, we get an agenda and we let them (city council) know the status of public housing from start to finish,” Motley said. “...Basically we give them a summary of all of our transactions and what we’re doing. The modernization, upgrades and things of that nature. We don’t get anything from the city as far as financial support. Everything we get is generated from rent revenue, grants or subsidy.”
Motley said that on a daily basis, he and his staff get out and visit the five complexes. He added that it’s apart of the “Disaster Preparedness Plan” to ensure that the residents are okay.
“We do that just in case something happens like a tornado, hurricane or storm,” Motley said. “We do that so we know who to contact and that type of thing. Say for example that there’s a gas explosion, we call everybody and make sure everybody’s safe. We coordinate with the city...but our five separate complexes, our staff, and I get out to make sure everything is okay. The administrative people here call people to make sure everyone is alright.”
Motley said that this was especially important during the height of COVID-19 cases.
“We’re still doing it every day now,” Motley said.
The staff will call and visit residents, especially its senior citizens.
Motley said they ask about the resident’s primary care appointments and if any maintenance needs to be done on their units. He added that some might think it’s an inconvenience, although it’s the housing authority’s job to fulfill those tasks on a day-to-day basis.
“We do everything from water leaks to changing light bulbs,” Motley said. “We do it all.”
For residents, filling a maintenance request is easy, and Motley said that there is an on-call roster for services over the weekend.
“People can call in and leave a voicemail,” he said. “If it’s an emergency in that category, we have people on-call by roster by name. So, they will come in and address those issues. Fortunately, all of our people live in close proximity to the city, so it’s easy to access to come in and take care of those things.”
To keep people safe and to maintain social distance, Motley said that all rent transactions have been eliminated.
“We are all ‘swipe and go,’” Motley said. “All rent transactions can be done online or over the phone.”
Motley said that a lot of the money is spent on maintaining the units and making sure they’re in great condition.
“We have all red brick units and they are meant to last,” he said. “The majority of them are 70 years old brick. They were built in 1950 and we have maintained them in great order. They were built to last forever. We spent our money wisely.”
Motley said that there are 110 units that are mostly occupied, but citizens are allowed to always fill out an application. He added that the waiting list never closes, although the process from that point on moves very slow. There’s not a lot of turnover from that list.
“Right now, there are approximately 70 families on the waiting list,” he said. “We could use another 100 units in Greensboro, today. Housing is at a premium and the availability is very slim and none.”
Navigating through a pandemic and making sure over a couple of hundred people are ensured safety is quite a feat, but Motley said it’s just his job to serve the community.
“Earlier this year, we passed out more than 400 PPE kits,” Motley said. “We bought out Lysol, disinfectants and hand wipes. Pretty much anything like protective masks. After, there was a shortage everywhere, but the office manager and I got together to figure out where we could buy supplies from. Then, we did that and as it came in we made little packages to pass out.”
Motley said that each resident received four packages throughout the past year and there was about “a 97 percent response rate” of positivity from those receiving the PPE.
“It was a tough time from the beginning, but it started to smooth out around July,” he said. “We have a great system in place and a great staff that I have been blessed with.”