Councilman believes conditions of apartment unit show systemic issues

As the City of Cleveland’s Rental Inspection Unit continues to review an east side apartment complex that tenants say has issues with mice and mold, a city councilman believes a different complex owned by the same company also needs to go under the microscope.

Last week, city inspectors began to scour over Park Place Apartments, a 122-unit complex on East Avenue. As News 5 has reported, many tenants at the expansive complex have complained about issues including mold, persistent water leaks, questionable electrical and, in one case, mushrooms growing out from the subfloor. News 5 has also reported on similar issues, primarily rats and mice, at Boardwalk Apartments, which is also owned and managed by American Community Developers and Independent Management Services respectively.

Earlier this week, Councilman Kevin Conwell said he met with a Glenville Apartments tenant and toured her unit. The series of buildings scattered across the east side are also owned and managed by the same companies as Park Place and Boardwalk. Conwell said it was like déjà vu.

“It was worse than some at the Park Place apartment buildings,” Conwell said. “[The tenant] showed me where she had to fight off rats. She had to deal with that. She showed me the mold and mildew that’s in the apartment buildings. She showed me the mice and rodent droppings. She said, ‘Councilman, they told me not to talk to you.’"

On Thursday, it appeared the tenant had been moved to another unit as a lone maintenance man was making repairs to a gaping hole in the drywall. There were also several kitchen cabinets in disarray, several smaller holes in the drywall and a half dozen rat traps.

The tenant could not be reached for comment. Conwell said the conditions of the apartment are simply unacceptable.

“The cavalry will come here also – just like we did at Park Place. I’ve reached out to HUD. I need to know why HUD let this happen and let these apartment buildings in my ward and let my residents live in abject poverty,” Conwell said. “Having the city come through — building and housing and the health department — that’s a great thing. But HUD needs to answer to the residents. It’s my residents, and it's taxpayer dollars.”

Many of the tenants at Park Place, Boardwalk and Glenville apartments receive federal assistance on their rents. The owners and managers of the three developments have repeatedly said whenever issues arise at any one of their properties, the issues are quickly addressed. Company officials have also repeatedly stated the companies spend "a lot of money" on maintenance-related projects, as well as pest remediation.

Other tenants at Glenville said quite the opposite.

“It makes me very upset, especially when you call and complain about something and they don’t come do it. I kept telling them over and over and over… they don’t come fix anything,” tenant Ashley Craig said. “You get up in the middle of the night and [mice are] running over your feet. They’re jumping out of walls. They’re in your cabinets. My kids are scared to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s a mess.”

Conwell said he will be asking the city health department and rental inspectors to tour the Glenville Apartment buildings. He said he will also be meeting with HUD officials. According to federal records, the most recent inspection of Glenville Apartments resulted in a score of 66 out of 100.

Sixty is considered passing.

Because of the conditions of the apartment units, Conwell said it will hinder the tenants’ ability to elevate themselves out of poverty.

“Some of the children, when they see things like this, they can’t learn. Poverty comes from the family. Poverty comes from where you’re living,” Conwell said. “What they see here, water not running, when they see mushrooms growing up in the building, when they see rats and roaches and they go to school, how can you learn? How can you study?”

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