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Records show 'troubled' Cleveland housing complex initially failed federal inspection

Posted at 11:19 AM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 11:40:26-04

Just months after failing its inspection by Cleveland’s Rental Inspection Unit, a “troubled” low-income housing complex on Cleveland’s east side also failed its federal inspection, according to records obtained by News 5. The failing inspection, which was later revised to a barely passing score, has renewed calls for greater oversight of Park Place apartments.

After inspectors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development canvassed the 122-unit complex in August, News 5 submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to the results of the inspection. HUD produced those records in late October.

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According to those records, HUD officials labeled the 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.

Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell said the federal inspection is especially troubling, considering the increased scrutiny that’s been on the property in recent months.

“The question needs to be asked of HUD: why don’t you move here? Why don’t you live in here to see what’s going on?” Conwell said. “How did they go from 58 to 60 and what made them go up? What did you look at? You need to look at their scorecard and see how [HUD] is evaluating these guys.”

News 5 has been investigating allegations of deplorable living conditions and deferred maintenance at the low-income apartment complex for months. Many if not most of the tenants at the 122 unit complex have their rents partially subsidized by HUD.

The issues at Park Place include persistent leaks from the roof and plumbing fixtures, the presence of mold, broken furnaces and air conditioning units, and stoves and ovens that don't work. 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.

Earlier this year, inspectors from Cleveland’s Rental Inspection Unit and Health Department converged on the complex in late June a three-day review of the complex’s 122 apartment units. As part of the lengthy inspection, city officials ensure that the apartment units are safe, sanitary, clean, maintained, and pest and contaminant-free. Inspectors will also make sure the unit’s air conditioning and heating works.  Inspectors will issue violations to the landlord if issues are found, city officials said in a release.

According to records obtained by News 5, inspectors found a total of 54 different violations in the 53 units that were surveyed. The violations only include those determined by the city’s department of building and housing. News 5 has also submitted records requests for the violations levied by the city’s health department as well. Those records have not been produced yet.

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

Councilman Conwell said he has requested a meeting with HUD officials and representatives of the city’s department of building and housing.

“We can go back through the process again of coming in here. We can have the cavalry come back in and put the pressure on,” Conwell said. “We should have never ever stopped anyway. You have to continue to keep hammering and hammering to get good outcome measures. They need to come up with some answers as to why my residents are living like this and why they haven’t put the hammer down. I don’t want to see children running around with rodents or vermin, mice or roaches. That’s not good. I’m not a happy camper.”

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. Company officials released a short statement to News 5 on Tuesday, saying that the companies will continue to work with the city and HUD to resolve any and all issues.