Marsha Farmer died on Friday, December 26…the same day that the Houston Chronicle published a front-page article about her role in exposing gross waste and mismanagement as a City of Houston-run home repair program.
Marsha Farmer was a determined, persistent whistleblower and open records activist. It was significantly due to records she obtained through the use of open records laws that she was able to establish that contractors in the home repair program routinely over-billed the city for excessive materials and for work that wasn’t performed.
When Farmer told the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program of her discoveries, they initiated an investigation that led to a requirement that the city’s mismanaged program repay $15.5 million to HUD for federal grant money it spent that went nowhere.
Farmer lived in a house that was eligible for home repair under the program she exposed. Her home was flooded by Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001, leading to an aggravated mold infestation. Her attempts to get the city’s home repair program to work on the house led to her suspicion that the agency was mismanaged.
After the Houston Chronicle covered her story in December, the city program agreed to make repairs … new electrical wiring, new siding, structural repairs and new drywall in rooms affected by mold for a total estimated cost of $45,000 to $50,000. She told the paper, “I should end up with a good, strong house that’s ready for another 50 years.”
Marsha Farmer, RIP.