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