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Cleveland Shaker Square tenants demand stronger city action against bad living conditions

Tenants report they're dealing with continued heating, water and alleged air quality issues
Cleveland Shaker Square tenants demand stronger city action against bad living conditions
Posted at 10:57 PM, Nov 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-28 23:08:55-05

CLEVELAND — Tenants living at the Residences at Shaker Square apartment complex in Cleveland said they're sick and tired of dealing with intermittent heating and water issues, and believe the city needs to do more to help.

Chimene Anderson told News 5 she's been fighting heating issues since last winter and has been forced to use space heaters and her electric oven to heat her apartment unit.

“It’s colder in my apartment than it is outside, it’s freezing," Anderson said. “I get up constantly during the night because I have to check the oven because I have to leave the oven open. Can I please have some heat, I pay my rent on time. I’ve been here four-and-a-half years, I need some heat.”

Cleveland Shaker Square tenants demand stronger city action against bad living conditions
Some tenants living at the Residences at Shaker Square report having to use their electric ovens to help heat their apartment units.

Tenant Ronald James first brought the issues at the complex to the attention of News 5 back in October, and said he and other residents at the complex have been coping with water leaks, alleged black mold issues and maintenance problems since January.

“It’s very frustrating, everybody in the building is really stressed out because the owners of this building haven’t done anything,” James said “We no longer have management here, so if we have a problem we have no one to contact.”

“I had mold in my closet and it took them 10 days to fix it, then they told me they were going to reimburse me for a week's stay in a motel and my clothing, but I haven’t gotten anything from them yet," James added. “There's garbage in the back, water leaking in the garage, steam coming out of everywhere because the pipes have rusted out.”

Cleveland Shaker Square tenants demand stronger city action against bad living conditions
Tenants living at the Residences at Shaker Square report chronic water leaks and piping issues at the apartment complex.

Shaker Square Alliance community activist, Jay Westbrook told News 5 he was disappointed when inspectors from Cleveland's Department of Building and Housing failed to show up at the complex last week to again search out and update code violations at the property.

Westbrook is hoping the City of Cleveland will take greater measures against New York City-based owners Shaker Square Apartments Owner LLC in the coming months, especially since Cleveland Housing Court confirmed the company failed to show up in court to answer to multiple code violations.

“The company itself has been ordered by the court to show up in person," Westbrook said. "Residents will use the power of their tenancy to withhold their rent and deposit it with the Cleveland Housing Court."

Cleveland Shaker Square tenants demand stronger city action against bad living conditions
Shaker Square Alliance community activist Jay Westbrook wants the City of Cleveland to take stronger action against apartment ownership.

News 5 again reached out to Shaker Square Apartments Owner LLC about this on-going case, and the majority owner's New York City offices answered our phone call promising an update on repairs at the Shaker Boulevard complex, but we're still waiting for an official response.

Cleveland Building and Housing Director Sally Martin again responded quickly to our story and said her team of inspectors will be out at the apartment complex on Nov. 30 to get an update on building issues and collect more information, in an effort to officiate needed building improvements.

Martin told News 5 she's now working with the Cleveland Law Director to see what more can be done to apply more pressure on the out-of-town building owners to get them to comply with city health and safety concerns.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Housing Court told News 5 apartment complex ownership is now being held in contempt of court for failing to show up in court, and is now facing a $1,000 fine for each day it fails to appear.

Westbrook said the City of Cleveland must take stronger action.

"It’s got to stop, the city has got to stand on the side of the tenants,” Westbrook said. "The tenants are so fed up, they’re not taking it anymore. The city has to walk around like they're carrying a great big two-by-four and they're ready to smack these owners across the face."