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More oversight coming to "troubled" low-income housing complex

Posted: 9:22 PM, Dec 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-06 04:12:24Z

After unflattering city and federal inspections, an embattled low-income housing complex on Cleveland’s east side will be subjected to more oversight, according to Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell.

Located in the 1400 block of East Boulevard, Park Place Apartments will undergo monthly monitoring to ensure management rectifies its well-documented electrical, plumbing, security and cleanliness issues.

The additional oversight comes months after Park Place initially failed its annual inspection by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to federal records obtained by News 5, HUD officials labeled the 122-unit complex as “troubled” due to multiple physical issues with the property - including a failing federal inspection score, a failed city inspection, as well as numerous complaints from residents.

On Aug. 17, HUD officials notified Park Place staff, as well as the Michigan-based property owners and managers, that the property violated its contract with the federal housing agency.

A few days later, the company submitted a corrective action plan that either detailed how the issues would be resolved or notifying HUD that the issues had been resolved. Some of the repairs included replacing electrical socket covers, fixing inoperable smoke detectors and correcting issues within the circuit breakers.

The complex’s score was raised from 58 to the barely passing score of 60, according to federal records.

Earlier this week, Councilman Conwell hosted a meeting with HUD officials, along with representatives from Cleveland’s department of building and housing and health department. The meeting was productive, Conwell said.

“After they put the [city’s] findings into the administrative records, [HUD officials] are going to monitor Boardwalk as well as Park Place on a monthly basis,” Conwell said.

Park Place Apartments is owned by Michigan-based American Community Developers.

The property is also managed by Independent Management Services, which is also based in Michigan.

The two companies also manage Boardwalk and Glenville Apartments, which are a series of small apartment buildings scattered across the east side.

The monthly monitoring will also apply to those units, Conwell said.

“[HUD officials] were not happy. They were not happy. They were very, very disappointed with management,” Conwell said. “What HUD said is that Boardwalk is the worst.”

An official from the ownership and management companies has previously told News 5 that they continue to work with the city and HUD to resolve any and all issues. According to city records, those issues have been extensive.

Records show a series of maintenance-related issues as well as problems brought on by the age of the buildings at Park Place. The problems include persistent roof and plumbing leaks, mold, broken HVAC units, as well as faulty appliances.

As News 5 first reported earlier this year, one tenant’s leaky ceiling from an upstairs shower caused the floor in her dining room to begin to rot. At one point, mushrooms began to grow.

This summer, inspectors from Cleveland’s Rental Inspection Unit and Health Department converged on the complex as part of a three day-review.

According to records obtained by News 5, inspectors found a total of 54 different violations in the 53 units that were surveyed.

The violations included 22 citations for faulty, missing or out-of-date smoke detectors – an obvious hazard in the event of a fire.

Records show there were six citations for leaky pipes in the bathrooms. There were also four violations for flaking or peeling paint and five more violations

The violations only include those determined by the city’s department of building and housing. The city’s department of health also cited the property for rodents, mold and other health-related issues.

The purpose of the meeting earlier this week was to provide the opportunity for the city and HUD to exchange information, Cowell said. Prior to the meeting, HUD officials did not have a copy of the city’s inspection performed earlier this year, Conwell said.

“Now we’re not living in silos. We’re working together,” Conwell said. “We can start working for the betterment of the residents in the city of Cleveland. “I feel like things are moving in the right direction.”

Tenants who did not wish to be identified told News 5 that although some issues have been remedied, many other larger-scale issues continue to linger. Conwell hopes those issues will also be addressed throughout the monitoring period.

“[HUD] understands it’s about the people on the inside,” Conwell said.