One man’s ongoing battle with public housing agency

Oliver Hill Sr. Photo Courtesy: Tifany Hill

An advocate for the rights of Black tenants in public housing, Oliver Hill Sr. fights a new battle to get ADA-accommodations while he is being relocated.

This comes after the Tallahassee Housing Authority [THA] received funding for redeveloping the Orange Avenue Apartments.

Tifany Hill, Oliver Hill Sr.’s daughter and a veteran outreach specialist, detailed her father’s issues and concerns.

He currently lives in one building, entering the first phases of construction for the Orange Avenue Redevelopment Plan.

In efforts to begin construction, Hill experienced utility shut offs, crucial to emergency alerts to his family in connection to his disabilities.

Hill has cerebral palsy, a reading disorder, a speech impediment and other medical ailments.

He has had a motor disability from birth, but his condition has worsened with age.

The gas in the 79-year-old’s apartment, which controls his air-conditioned unit, experienced a cut-off at the start of construction.

Tifany Hill also said that her father experienced a cable and internet shut-off, which connects his family to an emergency alert system.

According to a case study released by THA, the agency determined that the Orange Avenue Apartments were not safe in 2016.

According to Tifany Hill, THA is having a hard time finding housing with ADA-accommodations that match Hill’s disabilities to the fullest extent.

THA has considered moving Hill into temporary housing until it can get him the accommodations he needs.

Moving Hill more than once can be a difficult task for his family.

Tifany Hill feels that the housing authority did not plan for her father’s disability when executing relocations for the redevelopment plan.

“They were unprepared for someone who has a disability   … we want them to have enough patience with us to go ahead and get the upgrades so that he can move in [to an apartment with upgraded ADA accommodations],” Tifany Hill said.

According to THA, the Orange Avenue Apartments only provides four ADA-accommodated apartments.

There are 14 in total in all the public housing complexes overseen by THA.

Hill first entered the Orange Avenue Apartments in 1971, when he was a young man starting a family.

He became the vice president of the Orange Avenue United Tenants Association along with John McMillan, who was the president of the association.

Oliver Hill Sr, standing in front of Orange Avenue United Tenants Association sign. Photo Courtesy: Tifany Hill

McMillan and Hill started OAUTA to highlight the many issues tenants had in public housing.

OAUTA did not just reach Orange Avenue tenants, but tenants in the other public housing buildings that also had issues.

OAUTA also focused on educating the young Black community on issues related to women’s health and cultural learning during the 1970s.

In 1977, the Leon County School Board stopped bus services for elementary school children.

The board believed that the Orange Avenue Apartments were outside of the 2-mile service rule.

Hill was fought to get school buses running again to the Orange Avenue Apartments.

The route to walk to school was too hazardous and busy for children on their own, especially if parents were busy.

An associate of Hill’s detailed her experiences and the respect she gained for him over the years.

Claudette Lorraine Farmer, the current athletic director at Rickards High School, first met Hill when he coached a City League softball team. He became her assistant coach at Rickards in 1986.

Farmer described Hill as a man who was down-to-earth and strong.

“He’s a strong man, he’s a very intelligent man, he’s analytical. I have a lot of respect for him. I learned a lot from him,” Farmer said.

Even after local news articles from the 1970s described Hill as a controversial troublemaker, Farmer believes that Hill got into “necessary trouble.”

“People called him a trouble-maker, but you know what I refer to John Lewis, when he gets in trouble he gets into necessary trouble, good trouble,” Farmer said.

Farmer also recounted a story she would never forget involving Hill and one of his daughters.

“I’ll never forget we were running and she did not want to run, she had ran out of gas, and she didn’t want to go anymore, so she wanted to sit down and she left and when I looked he was coming back with her and he brought her back to practice and said, ‘Coach, if you need some help, I’m here to help you,’” Farmer said.


Hill also was the head coach of the FAMU softball team in 1978. Farmer was a player on his team. He was also Farmer’s assistant coach for the FAMU women’s basketball team in 1990.

Tifany Hill and her father’s fight didn’t stop at the relocation. They are also hoping to get Hill’s name back on the apartment complex community center.

She reminisced about her father’s saying about community members getting recognition once they are dead and gone.

“I want my dad to be alive and well to see him get his just due and give him the recognition he really deserves,” Tifany Hill said. “His name needs to go back on the community center.”

Farmer also believes that Hill should get the recognition he deserves for his community involvement.

Tifany Hill does not believe Hill will move back to the Orange Avenue Apartments as he is getting older.

According to the executive director of the THA, Brenda Williams, most tenants should be relocated by June 30.

“We had no set number,” Williams said. “We hope to have the remaining families relocated by June 30.”

So far, more than 40 families are still waiting to be relocated from the low-income apartments.