Virginia Hernandez accused council members of getting work done on their residences while elderly residents’ applications for help have been ignored. She singled out Council Member Florence Jackson and Mayor Pro Tem Mary Etta Anderson, accusing both of taking advantage of work done by Corps volunteers.
Hernandez took the podium under the public comments portion of the council meeting, demanding to know who was qualified to have work done through Corps programs. Anderson, who volunteers her time to coordinate applications for assistance in the Arcola area, said that elderly, disabled and low-income residents were eligible for help.
Hernandez then accused Jackson of having work done on her home and demanded to know why she was qualified for help while elderly residents remained on a waiting list. She also pointed the finger at Anderson, saying the mayor pro-tem had her home painted and repairs done on her home.
She added that elderly Hispanics like her neighbor were being ignored.
“Why can’t she get things done?” Hernandez shouted. “Because she’s Hispanic?”
Anderson said that the allegation was not true.
“I have not had any work done. I won’t even have my mom apply (to the program) and she’s 83,” Anderson told Hernandez. “The family takes care of repairs to her home because I volunteer to help the Corps. We don’t want anyone accusing us of taking advantage (of the program).”
Jackson accused Hernandez of making irresponsible accusations and said that kind of behavior was why she will not seek another term on the Arcola council.
“I’m not running for council next time because I’m tired of (allegations like) this,” Jackson told Hernandez.
At one point, Police Chief James Bartley stepped between Hernandez and the council table, telling the woman to calm down.
As tempers cooled, Anderson offered to personally take an application Hernandez had for her neighbor to the Corps offices. Hernandez gave the form to Anderson and left the meeting.
City Administrator Arnold Brown explained that Corps funding was limited and not everyone who applies can be assisted. He said that the city was working with the Corps to get more money invested in Arcola.
“We are working with the Corps to see that more funds are made available,” Brown said.
The Fort Bend CORPS is a nonprofit corporation located in Sugar Land that provides home repairs for elderly, disabled or low-income residents of Fort Bend County. All repairs are provided free of charge, made possible by grants, monetary donations, and in-kind donations from local organizations. Work is done by volunteers.
Since its establishment in 1999, Fort Bend Corps has completed repairs on more than 350 homes in the county. The current annual operating budget is approximately $1.3 million, with 90 percent of that amount going directly to program delivery.