RICHMOND, Va. — A woman’s emotional plea to the Richmond City Council this week has motivated others to ask what can be done to help people living in deteriorating, infested apartments in the city's public housing.
Sharanda Taylor told the council on Monday that she believes her living conditions are taking a toll on her mental and physical health. She shared emotional and deeply personal information with City Council members during the public comment period, hoping to remind the city of how much work is left to do.
She said there was no heat in her RRHA apartment and that her home was once overrun and infested with mice, according to WTVR.
“I was housed like an animal and left in the apartment for three months knowing that I had an infestation,” she said.
The mom told the council that conditions were so bad, she and her children had to relocate to a hotel. Taylor said she believes a miscarriage she had was tied to the stress caused by the difficult living conditions she and her children faced.
Then a graphic show-and-tell took council members by surprise.
Taylor held up a plastic container and addressed the council.
“Because I had a miscarriage, this is a baby," Taylor said. "My embryo that I can no longer carry. I sit here watching people hold their babies in the back while I hold mine in a cup."
Her plea for help was interrupted by officers who attempted to remove her.
Councilmembers came to her defense and told officers that they wanted to allow Taylor to continue speaking. Councilmember and pastor Mike Jones was moved by the mom’s passionate plea. He said she exemplified courage and bravery when she shared her emotional story.
He said her story is a gut-wrenching reminder of the work the city has yet to do.
“It’s going to take a comprehensive strategy and something that's actionable. Something that people are willing to own. Our office of community wealth building is a key piece to getting individuals trained and job ready. It’s going to take the larger community,” Jones said.
A top RRHA official said it is important to note that they have responded to all of her previous complaints about mice and heat. He confirmed that they moved her to a hotel and then to another RRHA apartment.
Since the City Council meeting, the agency has been trying to reconnect with Taylor to see if there’s any other way that they can assist her.