UPDATED: Video of Awful Conditions at Government-Funded Apartments
The government pays for some awful apartments in Houston.
UPDATED: We heard back from Dick Lamar, president of Creative Property Management, the company that owns Crescent Park. Lamar gave us his side of the story; details follow our original story. Basically, he says, "This isn't our fault. We want to take care of problems and we do. We are trying the best we possibly can."
Houstonian Eugenia Brown sent Hair Balls a video (after the jump) of her daughter's and granddaughter's horrific living conditions at the Crescent Park Apartments.
The video, narrated by Brown, pretty much speaks for itself. Footage of a caved in ceiling, walls with mold, and just overall, like we said, horrific conditions.
Worse, the federal government is paying rent on the place.
Eugenia's daughter, Quiana Brown, lives at Crescent Park, near Westheimer and Kirkwood, on the Section 8 program, which basically provides vouchers to low-income people for rent assistance. Quiana gets a voucher each month for a little more than $800, and rent at Crescent Park is $640.
According to Eugenia, the ceiling caved in not long after Quiana moved there in October of last year. The apartment management patched it up, but about a month later, it happened again. And that's the way it's been since. The mold, Eugenia says, has always been a problem.
Hair Balls first wrote about Eugenia and her daughter in September of last year, when they were losing another apartment because an rental assistance program for Hurricane Katrina evacuees was ending.
On the video, and in conversations with Hair Balls, Eugenia makes a lot of accusations about Harris County Housing, which has failed Quina's apartment on several inspections, and management at Crescent Park. Basically, she doesn't understand why one part of the government pays for an apartment that another part says isn't fit to live in.
"I'm working, I pay my taxes," Eugenia Brown tells Hair Balls. "I pay tax dollars to help people get back on there feet, not to pay these apartment complexes money they don't deserve."
She continues, "If my daughter stole a bunch of money from the government, her face would be all over the news. But I want to stop y'all from giving apartments money they don't deserve, because how many more poor people live like this but are afraid to speak up?"
We contacted Crescent Park and the Harris County Housing Authority, but we haven't heard anything back. We'll be sure to update this blog as soon as we do.
UPDATED INFORMATION: Lamar says that management at the complex didn't know about the problems inside the unit until September of this year, when Harris County Housing visited the place to perform its yearly inspection of subsidized apartments.
According to Lamar, Quiana had changed the locks on the unit but didn't give management a copy of the new key. Eugenia admits she changed her daughter's locks after a break-in but gave the apartment copies of the new keys.
Either way, the inspector couldn't get inside and the unit failed inspection.
Attempts by Crescent Park management to contact Quiana and Eugenia, who lives in Crescent Park but without subsidized rent, were unsuccessful.
"We went over to the mother's apartment, and they yelled at us and told us to go away," Lamar says. "How do you deal with someone like that?"
But, Lamar says, after management basically threatened to break in to Quiana's apartment and change the locks, she gave them access to the apartment. What they found in side was, in fact, horrifying.
A plumbing leak had ruined the sheet rock, causing the ceiling to cave in, and ruined the carpet. A window was also broken, kicked out, Lamar says, by a resident that had a disagreement with Quiana.
Lamar says that the apartment was repaired this week. The ceiling and window was replaced and the carpet was shampooed.
"These people get free rent but they don't take care of the units," Lamar says. "As soon as she moves out, we'll have to completely replace the carpet, and we can't be replacing carpets every year."
He says the problems started when the apartment gave Eugenia an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent. Lamar says he thinks that Eugenia made the video and sent it to news outlets out of revenge and retaliation.
Eugenia says she wasn't able to pay rent for a month when she was in between nursing jobs, but that an anti-homeless agency in Houston offered to pay the rent but the apartment complex refused to accept a check. Lamar denies this happened.
Eugenia plans to fight the eviction in court. According to Lamar, Quiana plans to move out at the end of the year.
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