HUD had been aware of negative conditions at Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA) since at least 2010. HUD identified issues with ACHA’s governance, including the misuse of funds, conflicts of interest, and a failure to comply with HUD policies and Federal civil rights laws. Further, about 200 children and their families lived in units with peeling paint; graffiti; pest infestations; and other health and safety hazards, such as inoperable appliances and obstructed accessibility routes.
On December 21, 2017, smoke spread from a malfunctioning air-handling unit on the 11th floor to parts of many other floors. While a smoke detector in an air duct functioned properly and the fire department was notified, there was no audible alarm or public announcement to notify occupants to evacuate. People in one suite described the smoke as “heavy” and “thick.”