KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Helana Wyatt, a tenant at Stonegate Meadows Apartments, stood in front of a freshly painted wall in her basement, shaking her head.
“I went to the office and let them know that my dishwasher had flooded,” she said. “They never came to extract water.”
She said water and sewage pooled onto her kitchen floor, spilling out over her sink and dishwasher, something she asked property managers at Stonegate Meadows to address.
She said they never responded.
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“Because they never came Nov. 22 to extract the water, that meant that the water sat on my floor. It happened more than one occasion,” she said. “I let them know my plumbing was backed up. Thanksgiving, I couldn’t do any cooking because they didn’t address the issue.”
It wasn’t until she called the Healthy Homes program through the Kansas City Health Department that there was action.
“They did the inspection,” she said. “At that time, they contacted the complex, let them know that they needed to come and extract the mold and the sewage, and it went so far that there was no longer an alternative to just shampooing the carpet because of all the sewage from the plumbing.”
Over a month later, Wyatt said the complex finally started working to address her maintenance concerns, but she’s worried residents will receive botched jobs.
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“Housing Authority requires they show an attempt (to fix things), and that’s all they do is the attempt,” she said.
From mold to flooding, trash to security, Wyatt said resident concerns just continue to pile up.
“I try to take care of my property, but they do patchwork jobs,” she said.
Demand for action
Following a fire that left 15 people hospitalized in April, FOX4 Problem Solvers received numerous complaints of broken fire alarms, among other maintenance and safety concerns, from residents.
FOX4 contacted Councilman Brandon Ellington, who visited the property with fire crews to inspect Stonegate Meadows’ fire safety code compliance.
“There’s a lot of HUD recipients here, so when you talk about the maintenance issues or the lack thereof maintenance, or the lack thereof moving trash, when you talk about safety issues, fire detectors, and all that good stuff, these are mandatory,” Ellington previously told FOX4. “They’re not even questionable.”
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When Problem Solvers contacted U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, he sent Stonegate Meadows Apartments a letter demanding action from management and property owners.
“No Missourian deserves to live in unsafe or substandard housing, and it appears Stonegate Meadows has fallen far short of its obligations,” he said in the letter.
Cleaver said 48 units have tenants using housing vouchers.
“I spent seven years living in public housing, and so I’m probably a little more intolerant than most because I understand what happens in terms of neglect when poor people are involved,” Cleaver told FOX4.
“And that’s why we sent the letter off very quickly, and I think Stonegate understood and they responded back quickly.”
He said the management firm, Elite Management, must send a plan to address all the deficiencies involving those (housing voucher) apartments.
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The Kansas City Housing Authority also said it’s no longer accepting any new voucher holders for Stonegate Meadows, at least until there are consistent improvements made.
“We’re not going to sit quietly and see only the (HUD) units that we have control of being redeveloped or repaired,” Cleaver said. “We want the entire building to reflect the commitment that Stonegate made to the federal government when they got the contract.”
Cleaver said the housing authority plans to check in with each client, will stop payments for rental assistance for any unit that is not in compliance with housing quality standards, and that tenants will be given the option to move.
“My only concern right now is the time for which the people who operate in Kansas City can put the plan together, and then we’ll go over the plan and hopefully it’s going to be a plan that will make changes and make them quickly,” Cleaver said. “And then, we’ll be satisfied.”
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