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Conditions of apartment complex draw ire, concern of Cleveland councilman

Posted: 6:15 PM, May 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-31 07:00:51-04

Concerned by possible health and safety hazards, Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell issued a stern warning to the owners and managers of an east side apartment complex, saying a trip to housing court is likely if the issues aren’t rectified soon.

As News 5 first reported last week, Elizabeth Jackson, a tenant at Park Place apartments, said her living conditions were unsafe and unsanitary. Among the issues were mice, mold, faulty electrical outlets, failing plumbing fixtures and a persistent leak coming from the second floor. Also, there were mushrooms (yes, mushrooms) reportedly growing up from the subfloor underneath the leaky ceiling. Jackson alleged property management failed to have repairs made despite her asking multiple times. 

RELATED: Of Mice and Mushrooms: Tenant alleges frequent leaks in apartment cause mold, fungus growth

Conwell, the city councilman representing Cleveland’s 9th Ward, saw Jackson’s plight and wanted to see the unit for himself.

“I needed to get an up-close view of what’s going on,” Conwell said. “That way I can better represent my residents and we can go after this company.”

At first, Conwell and Jackson’s brother were met with resistance by a property manager.

“I’m going to ask you guys to leave,” the woman said.

It wasn’t enough to deter Conwell from going inside, saying he was guest of the tenant.

“It’s me, Councilman Conwell from the City of Cleveland,” Conwell said as he entered the dimly-lit apartment. “Call your boss and tell them I’m here…I need to see it.”

The property manager then ordered News 5 to leave the apartment. However, the tenant’s brother took pictures of inside the apartment, showing the living spaces in a state of construction. There were multiple holes still in the floors and walls. New tile and plumbing fixtures also appear to have been installed in the bathroom. While some improvements have been made, Conwell said it’s not nearly enough.

“It’s abject poverty in there. Residents shouldn’t live like that,” Conwell said. “The walls are dirty. Holes are in the walls. They said they completed the bathroom. That bathroom is not completed. It’s filthy.”

Conwell said he had seen and heard enough, saying he’s already working on securing a meeting with the complex’s Detroit-based ownership company and the complex’s management company, IMS Management. Conwell said he has already scheduled a meeting next week with the tenants of the complex to learn more about the issues at the 122-unit complex.  

“We [have] to meet with this management company and come down on them,” Conwell said. “The city is moving forward to do that. We’re coming, we are definitely coming. If push comes to shove and we have to take them to [housing court], then we’ll do that. [Residents are] not getting quality of life that I see. There are 122 units, we need to visit every single unit to make sure.”

Jackson’s brother, Noah, also toured his sister’s apartment alongside Conwell. He’s also a tenant at Park Place. While encouraged by Conwell’s commitment to hold property management and ownership accountable, he said the problems at Park Place are widespread.

“[My sister’s apartment] was a representation of what’s going on in this apartment complex. That’s just one tip of the iceberg,” Noah Jackson said. “I’m happy that [Conwell] is putting it on his shoulders to help. It seems like something is going to get done. It seems like my sister is going to get some type of help. It’s going help the residents out here get some type of help.”

According to records obtained by News 5 from the building and housing department, there have been numerous complaints filed against Park Place. Many of the complaints were about leaking pipes and mold. Federal inspection records show the complex received an inspection score of 62 when HUD surveyed the property in 2016.

Conwell said he also pushed Park Place’s owners to expedite repairs to several units that were without water in January. He also pushed ownership to increase security at the complex after numerous shootings. 

The current situation at Park Place is just as dire, he said.

“You wouldn’t want your family to live like what’s going on here,” Conwell said. “You wouldn’t want that.”

Representatives from IMS Management could not be reached for comment.