Virginia Organizing has been working with the City of Waynesboro for two years to explore implementing a rental inspection program. City Manager Mike Hamp has veered between a seeming interest and willingness to discuss such a program to abruptly, inexplicably cutting off all contact with us. Most recently Mr. Hamp reestablished contact and agreed to pursue discussions on the subject. He agreed to speak with officials in Winchester, a community similar in size to Waynesboro with a successful inspection program and to get back to us with ideas of how such a program might look for our city.
Rather than bringing information and data back to us for further discussion after meeting with Winchester, Mr. Hamp made the astonishing move to make an unannounced statement at the most recent City Council meeting that he believes our city would not benefit from an inspection program! Mr. Hamp’s presentation was not on the agenda for the meeting, thereby not allowing for appropriate public comments.
Mr. Hamp failed to act in good faith in his relationship with this community by attempting to circumvent further research and discussions with the community. He failed to mention a previous suggestion made by Virginia Organizing that the city might consider rolling out a program covering limited areas in highly vulnerable neighborhoods. While claiming there are too few complaints being filed on the city’s webpage by affected tenants to justify an inspection program, Mr. Hamp did not address the fact that those affected by poor conditions are very often afraid to bring their landlord’s attention to their complaint for the very real possibility of retribution and even eviction, which we have witnessed more than once.
Despite comments by Councilmen Short and Lee showing support for continued research and discussions on the subject, Mr. Hamp appears to be attempting to thwart such conversations and is, in the opinion of many Waynesboro’s residents, not acting in good faith in his position as city manager.
Letter from Connie Wright-Zink/Middlebrook