Millbrook Village residents rally against housing authority leadership amidst board leadership changes

Steven Goode, Hartford Courant
·3 min read

Amid uncertainty the town council Monday is expected to discuss the makeup of the Windsor Housing Authority’s board of commissions. Chairmanship of the board was vacant following Randy McKenney’s resignation last week hours before a town council meeting when his removal was expected to be discussed.

At a meeting Wednesday, member Del Rondinone was appointed acting chair, though her term on the commission ended last April.

Adam Gutcheon, appointed to the housing authority commission in November, expected that there would be a vote taken to name an interim chairman, though he received a letter from longtime member Robert Mack, claiming he would be named to the position and suggesting Gutcheon resign.

The meeting was held virtually on last-minute notice after residents of the Milllbrook Village public housing complex, overseen by the Windsor Housing Authority, held a rally Wednesday to call for the ouster of the housing authority leadership and others.

At the rally, residents of the complex and town residents held signs asking for safe housing and heard from speakers.

“We want change. Two years of mistreatment. Two years too long. Be Gone,” said Taariq Jaamal as he led a group of about a dozen residents in a chant in the complex parking lot.

Urleen Naughton, the housing authority’s executive director and her staff have come under fire for delays and poor workmanship on a $3.8 million renovation project at the complex and what the residents say is abusive treatment.

In November, a group of more than two dozen residents signed a petition to the town council complaining of issues related to the renovation project and the treatment they were receiving from Naughton and her staff.

The town council has also received a number of letters from residents complaining about conditions and treatment.

Complaints included allegations that tenants were being forced to pay to have their belongings removed as they moved from one unit to another to accommodate the renovations and unfair treatment of disabled residents. Other allegations included poor or no response from the maintenance department on needed repairs like lack of heat and waste from toilets rising up through plumbing in other rooms, as well as threats and harassment of residents by the management team and Naughton.

Naughton initially said that the housing authority had no say in the project and downplayed the complaints, but has since referred reporters to the housing authority’s attorney.

On Wednesday, Jaamal, a longtime resident of the complex, said that issues have continued, noting one building in which the toilets backed up in all 12 units and said that a tenant who had moved into a renovated unit was given his old appliances instead new ones and that they had failed.

The rally also drew residents and elected officials, including two council members and state Reps Jane Garibay, Bobby Gibson and Brandon McGee, co-chairman of the general assembly’s housing committee, who told the residents that they were investigating the issues.

Resident Sharran Selig Bennett also spoke and said she was appalled by what was happening.

“You’re not going to be forgotten by this town,” she said.

Steven Goode can be reached at sgoode@courant.com.