BY DARRYL Q. TUCKER
Journal Managing Editor
More than a dozen residents in the 176-unit apartment complex, at Cherry and Erie streets, conducted a news conference Thursday, Oct. 11, to express that InterCoastal Group, the owners, are not responsive to their concerns.
Members of United North, a community group, and its One Village Council attended the rally lending support to the tenants.
This is an urgent matter and a very serious situation, said Simmie Lassiter Jr., who has four children living at Greenbelt.
“We will no longer tolerate the unhealthy and dangerous living conditions,” Lassiter said. “These are unsafe conditions for our children and us.
“We are being treated unfairly. Someone here has to help us.”
Large roaches, mice and bed bugs have taken over the units, he said.
Kisha Vinson also is upset with the roaches to the point she believes the bacteria from the bugs contributed to her son’s asthma condition and have led to his allergies.
“It’s awful, nasty and trifling,” said Vinson, who has three other children and has lived in Greenbelt since August. “We can’t keep living like this.
“We complain and no one ever comes. It’s getting worse. I can’t keep staying in these conditions while (management) go home to their nice and happy homes.”
Vinson said an exterminator finally sprayed her unit for bugs during the first week of October.
Lassiter also said the residents are forming a tenants’ association to address their complaints with management.
Delores Harmes, who has lived at the Greenbelt for 18 months, said she has less income than when she moved in and management won’t work with her on paying her rent.
She said she’s calling for an investigation into the financial practices of the owners.
Harmes said she feels management is retaliating against her because she told The Toledo Blade about her inability to pay all of her rent. She says her income is $6,000 a year and when her pay decreased she couldn’t afford the $143 a month.
She said she can’t afford to live off her income if management doesn’t lower her rent.
The Advocates for Basic Legal Equality officials said they are willing to help.
Attorney Robert A. Cole, of the Advocate for Basic Legal Equality, attended the afternoon rally.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve been here,” Cole said. He said his organization is able and willing to assist the residents with Intercoastal Financial, which is based in Los Angeles, Calif.
When ABLE intervened 12 years ago, they reached an agreement with the then owners and the living conditions improved, Cole said.
Lassiter said doors are flimsy,
Greenbelt offers Section 8 housing, which a private company owns but subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for low-income tenants.
HUD pays InterCoastal more than $140,000 monthly to provide housing at the Greenbelt.
Ryan Agee, property manager for Los Angles-based InterCoastal Financial, watched as the rally took place.
He referred questions to Ann Syms, InterCoastal director of operations, who did not return phone calls from The Journal.
However, she told The Blade the company is aware of tenant complaints and was addressing them individually.
She told the newspaper that she rejected allegations the company is unresponsive to resident concerns and said InterCoastal has continuously contracted with outside firms to rid the bugs.
Accusations that the company wouldn’t lower rent when residents’ income decreased “impossible,” Syms said.