Damage and management changes to the East Austin apartment
AUSTIN, Texas – Tenants face more damage and disputes with the management of an apartment complex in East Austin.
Families in the village of Mount Carmel went without gas for months, then were displaced for another three months during repairs.
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- Tenants in the village of Mount Carmel were relocated for months after a gas failure in February following the winter storm
- East Austin multi-family tenant executives say the property has gone through four managers this year
- Tenants in the complex still need major repairs since and before the storm
- Tenants signed a contract with the property management company to improve conditions in May
Now tenants say their apartments are still not being repaired, administrative staff continue to be replaced and promises are broken. All this happens after they have signed an agreement with the management company to improve the conditions.
Spectrum News spoke to Esperanza Castillo as she cleaned her daughter’s apartment.
âShe just called me, mom, my roof has collapsed,â she said.
A ceiling leak caused water damage and mold, which ruined some of his property.
Castillo washed clothes and sorted his granddaughter’s toys to decide which ones she could collect.
âI was browsing all of her toys right now,â she said. âBecause they smelled really good. “
The mother says her daughter, Monica Gonzales, had a hole in her ceiling for about six months.
âThey said okay, we’ll have someone go and fix it, and then they never came to fix it,â she said.
When Spectrum News arrived, there were two white spots on Gonzales’ popcorn ceiling. Castillo says it was done just two days ago.
âIt was really hard on her. She got into a depression, you know,â Castillo said.
Castillo says his daughter and granddaughter fell ill. She also says she is recovering from a cough, runny nose and sore throat.
In a written statement, tenant leader Taniquewa Brewswer said many families are still suffering damage.
âAlthough the gas problem has apparently been resolved in the village of Mount Carmel, the residual effects are still present. Tenants always say they smell of gas, that there are leaks on the roofs of a few buildings and that maintenance is scarce. Mold, a problem that affects so many people, is also still present in several units. We lost power for an hour the other night and the situation was traumatic. We have new property managers – it’s a total of four this year and a lot of promise for change. Progress is slow, but the fear is that if the property is not properly maintained, we will be faced with a similar situation at the dawn of the winter months.
We asked him how management changes affect tenants.
In an email response, Brewster says these sales are making conditions worse.
âThe biggest problem with changing staff is that tenant work orders get lost, files aren’t kept properly, and the blame is usually placed on the previous staff. This becomes the tenant’s responsibility.
We reached out to property management company Eureka for comment.
A spokesperson emailed us this statement:
âThe former property manager was recently promoted. Eureka brought in another senior member of the management team as a replacement. There are currently no outstanding repair requests, and the new management is currently checking previous repair requests to confirm that they have all been completed. “
The nonprofit housing advocacy group BASTA worked with Mount Carmel and other tenants to fight for better living conditions after the storm.
At a press conference, we spoke to program director Shoshana Krieger about what the organization is facing eight months later.
âWe’re still talking to tenants who are still battling storm damage, mold, and getting notices six months after the storm saying, oh now you have to move out,â she said.
Many city leaders and departments got involved in March after the blackout displaced more than 100 families for several months as crews repaired gas lines.
Austin City Council member Natasha Harper-Madison has also been involved in the negations between Eureka and the tenants.
Mount Carmel is located in the First District, represented by Mayor Pro-Tem.
She was not available for an interview, but her office sent us this statement:
âMy team and I have been following the events at Mount Carmel closely. Decades of divestment create problems that cannot be solved overnight or even in a matter of months. By organizing for their own cause, residents are doing their part, but they cannot do it alone. Ensuring that they and others in similar communities have the dignity and comfort that many of us appreciate is a city-wide concern that requires serious effort from the public and private sectors. . I will continue to work to make sure no one is missing. “
As for Castillo, his daughter is still waiting for an interview to repair his air conditioning. She says he’s been out for about two weeks.
The property gave them a freestanding air conditioning unit which they installed in one of the bedrooms. In the living room they have a fan on to cool the rest of the apartment.
Castillo sleeps on his daughter’s couch until things improve.
âI’m doing my best to be there for her,â Castillo said.