KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Owners of a Northland apartment complex have been fined more than $400,000.
Last year, health inspectors shut down part of Englewood Apartments, finding 115 health and safety violations.
Sewage back ups, cockroach infestations, asbestos, leaks and ceilings caving in are just some of the issues residents at Englewood Apartments dealt with for years.
“Nobody should have to live like that. No working faucets, no sinks. No, you guys didn’t come fix anything,” Britney McCauley said.
McCauley used to live at Englewood and said conditions were unsafe for her and her three kids. Not long after going public with her concerns last fall, she was evicted from Englewood and is now homeless.
“They treated us like we’re nothing. We all need, you know, a hand sometimes, and it’s a stepping stone,” McCauley said.
Kansas City Councilman Dan Fowler helped draw attention to Englewood’s problem and ultimately spurred action through Kansas City’s Health Homes Initiative.
“It was horrid. I can’t describe anything like that in this country,” Fowler said.
Englewood offers federally subsidized Section 8 Housing, so the issues at the complex also raised concerns with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD just issued a 56-page report of findings from a full audit of the property.
The audit shows “below average” conditions at Englewood and indicates multiple false reports being submitted by its owners to get subsidy payments it wasn’t eligible for.
That included an issue FOX4 exposed last year, in which owners cashed in on federal dollars for a dead woman’s apartment.
“It’s satisfying that the feds, I think, are taking a harder look at it than they were before,” Fowler said.
HUD is now demanding Englewood’s parent company, Millennia Housing Management, shell out more than $400,000 in fines to cover money it received that it was ineligible to receive.
In a statement, the company said, “We understand these concerns and have enacted measures to address them.”
Millenia said the complex is also getting a major $10 million makeover right now and that a new leadership and property management team are in place.
McCauley is glad changes are happening, but said it shouldn’t have taken health inspectors and a federal audit to force action.
“It’s time for somebody to step up and listen and hear with the ear,” she said. “Like the Lord said, he reaches out of hand. Just make sure you grab onto it, and eventually you’ll be heard and you’ll do justice will be done.”
Fowler said the situation at Englewood has really shed light on the need for more quality, affordable housing across Kansas City. He encourages tenants across the city to report any troublesome living conditions to the health department’s Healthy Homes Division before problems put their healthy and safety at risk.
Here is Millenia’s full statement:
“Recently, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General (HUD OIG) issued the results of a review of Englewood Apartments’ Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program.
“The results, based on a management and occupancy review in January 2018 and an audit of tenant files from the period of November 1, 2016 through October 21, 2018, found that Englewood Apartments did not manage the program in accordance with applicable requirements as it relates to tenant eligibility and recertification requirements.
“We understand these concerns and have enacted improvement measures to address them. Additionally, we cooperated with HUD and HUD OIG in their review of these matters.
“We are optimistic about the future of Englewood Apartments. Presently, a more than $10 million comprehensive rehabilitation is underway. A new leadership and property management team is in place.
“Many residents have into moved renovated units. A newly constructed community center is scheduled for completion by year-end. Moreover, we have implemented additional controls to ensure that the community is operating in compliance with HUD program requirements.
“For additional context, in May 2015, the owner acquired the property, which at the time was a troubled affordable housing development that suffered from years of neglect and deferred maintenance; the challenging physical conditions, coupled with the delay in being able to raise preservation capital, resulted in limited resources and made it difficult to address file and site conditions during the time period referenced in the audit.
“Amid an escalating affordable housing crisis across the nation, we are pleased to have moved past this challenging period and are preserving 152 units of affordable housing for the families of Kansas City.”