COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Housing Authority has now picked a new chairperson and vice-chair for the agency that oversees the city's public housing.

E.W. Cromartie III was selected as chair, while Anne Sinclair was vice-chair. The move came during the first meeting of a mostly newly constructed board that had just been picked earlier this month.

On March 5, the Columbia City Council filled four vacancies on the board with James Chatfield, Georgia Mjartan, Kara Simmons, and Sinclair to be on the board. The board's now former chairman, Bobby Gist, and three other members had announced they were leaving. 

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Two of the commissioners resigned and another commissioners term expired.

Those openings came after two men, Calvin Witherspoon Jr. and Derrick Roper, died in their homes at Allen Benedict Court from carbon monoxide poisoning in January. 

House later, the Columbia Fire Department found gas leaks and carbon monoxide in homes on the property that were at dangerous levels. A day after the men were found dead, all 411 people living at Allen Benedict were evacuated, and the property was abandoned. 

Multiple lawsuits have since been filed over the living conditions there. 

The Columbia Housing Authority's Executive Director, Gilbert Walker, announced several weeks later that he was retiring in June after 18 years leading the agency, and 50 years as an employee of the authority. 


In our investigation, we've uncovered previous maintenance problems in the units at Allen Benedict Court, that showed there were concerns about the units well before January 17th. We have a mountain of documents related to the case, as well as interviews with residents, and we continue to present new information each day.

You can see more into our probe below: 

RELATED: Four years of Allen Benedict Court inspection reports released

RELATED: DEEP DIVE: Work orders highlight potentially life-threatening problems at Allen Benedict Court

RELATED: Deep Dive: Work orders for deceased resident's apartment

RELATED: History of issues at Allen Benedict Court Apartments

RELATED: Allen Benedict Court records show possible lack in maintenance

RELATED: Incident report reveals possible source of CO in Allen Benedict Court deaths

RELATED: 'Maybe they care, maybe they don't' Columbia Housing resident speaks out about maintenance issues

RELATED: EMS radio recordings describe moments after man was found in his apartment at Allen Benedict Court

RELATED: Fire Department: At least 7 calls for 'suspicious odors' in 2018 at Allen Benedict Court

RELATED: Allen Benedict Court work orders show history of maintenance issues at deceased resident's apartment

RELATED: 'It takes a toll': Allen Benedict mother, daughter adapting to new normal

RELATED: 'I was in the belly of Hell': ex-Allen Benedict Court resident describes living there

RELATED: Previous work orders show gas leak issues at Allen Benedict Court


There have also been multiple lawsuits filed in connection to the case. You can see our coverage of those below.

RELATED: First lawsuit filed against Columbia Housing Authority director, commission chair

RELATED: Lawsuit alleges Allen Benedict Court Resident suffered from 'gas poisoning' well before evacuations

RELATED: Two new lawsuits filed over death, injury at Allen Benedict Court apartments

RELATED: 'Grossly negligent': 1st lawsuit filed over conditions at Allen Benedict Court Apartments