COLUMBIA, S.C. — (WLTX) -- Almost two months ago a gas leak at Allen Benedict court took the lives of two men, Derrick Roper and Calvin Witherspoon Jr. It also displaced 411 residents, leaving them to stay in hotels for weeks until they could find a new permanent housing situation.
Since that day in January 90 out of 239 families are still searching for a home. So far 196 Section 8 vouchers have been issued for those moving. The Spokesperson for the Columbia Housing Authority, Cynthia Hardy, said their goal is for those remaining families to be in a new home by the end of March.
Hardy said they are giving rides to people daily to assist those still searching for a place to live. Four new board members have been appointed by the City of Columbia Council.
The four new board members are James Chatfield, Georgia Mjartan, Kara Simmons and Anne Sinclair. They will be taking the seats of Jennifer Rubin, Bessie Watson, Bobby Gist and Alexzena Furgess. Hardy said this is a positive step moving forward.
"Everybody is real excited about the new board members and everybody is very excited about the ideas and the new directions that they are able to to bring," Hardy said. "The talent pool among the four new people is pretty impressive."
Even with new leadership on the board, at the end of the day this is still about Derrick Roper and Calvin Witherspoon Jr., the two men who died of carbon monoxide poisoning and the 411 residents who were displaced.
"Mr. Walker said I'm responsible. I'm the leader, I'm responsible," Hardy said. "According to Gilbert Walker here at the Columbia Housing Authority we are responsible for the people who live in our properties. Our mission is to provide safe, decent, affordable housing to people and that is our intent to do that. And when we fall short, if we fall short of that, then we have to to look at corrective action to make sure it doesn't happen again."
"So he is taking full responsibility?," News19 asked Hardy.
"He did so in the news conferences that we had at the very, very beginning and in our staff meetings he said that as well," Hardy said.
The investigation into the authority and deaths of Calvin Witherspoon Jr. and Derrick Roper are still on going. The first meeting with the new board members will be next Thursday.