Westcott residents say SBHA won't help with "unlivable conditions"
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Deteriorating conditions at a South Bend Housing Authority apartment complex – Westcott Apartments. Residents tell ABC57 they feel unheard by management and are now resorting to code enforcement for help.
Despite putting in multiple work orders, these tenents say nothing is getting done and it’s even starting to affect their health.
“My father cannot breathe and he has the right to breathe," Zoey Reynolds, whose father lives in the building said.
Tenants at Westcott Apartment Complex near downtown South Bend are fed up.
“So many issues," Henry Reynolds, one tenant said.
Broken plumbing, stoves, air conditioning - there’s water damage, mold, and even pests like mice and cockroaches.
"They just fixed my shower after 6 months. I had to wash up in the sink," he said.
“I’m dealing with them not fixing my oven, I haven’t been able to cook for over a month," Penny Iavagnilio, another tenant said. “I have bed bugs and issues with that.”
"There was a puddle of water inside my apartment. We had to walk like this to get in there," Reynolds said.
Several work orders, residents say are going unfulfilled.
“They tell me my work orders aren’t important," Iavagnilio said.
“I’m hearing the same thing over again bad plumbing, mold," Rodney Gadson, with the South Bend Tenant Association said.
He helped relocate residents at the Rabbi Shulman apartment complex earlier this year when the South Bend Housing Authority closed it down. Many were then moved to the Westcott Apartments.
“It is worse than the building they just left," he said.
But a sign of hope Monday, as the city’s code enforcement officers, visited 3 apartments.
“He documented all of this and he said he was going to get on it. He said because there’s a lot of violations in this apartment alone," Iavagnilio said.
The condition of Westcott apartments, not a shock to the Executive Director of the South Bend Housing Authority which owns and is supposed to maintain the property.
"The condition of the Westcott apartments is severe. It’s an aged building. It has suffered from long-term neglect from maintenance and management," Catherine Lamberg said. "I can not turn back the hands of time and make it a brand new building today so our best efforts are to try and get in front of the issues that are affecting the building.”
Westcott residents say they’ve been dealing with these issues for months.
Lamberg said the pandemic is partly to blame because the department was limited and room inspections were not done during this time.
She said they are doing everything they can to fulfill work orders, but some believe more should be done.
"Move them. Move them. Move them now. Start the process now so if the building is repairable you can repair it safely," Gadson said.
"We are taking actions to try and get in front of the problems plaguing the building and address those problems to the best of our ability," Lamberg said. "Going through another massive relocation would not be good to the residents. So to the greatest extent, we can avoid that from happening is what we’re working on doing.”
Again code enforcement was here today and told one resident there were several violations.
We will just have to see in the coming months what happens – of course stay with abc57 news as we learn more.