ANDERSON — Residents at an apartment complex in Anderson say several issues are creating unlivable conditions.
“I’ve been in here on four or five different occasions water floods. In here mopping and throwing my comforter down,” said Theresa Porter, a longtime tenant at what is now known as the Bingham Apartments.
That is just one of many issues Porter has dealt with since she moved in here more than a decade ago. In that time, she’s lived with dirty hallways, damaged walls, old dirty carpeting and request for repairs or general maintenance going unanswered.
Porter is not alone, other tenants are also tired of the unlivable conditions.
“It’s been really bad. Water is being cut off, the trash is running over and this is every week,” said Jaunett Sutton, whose mother has lived at the complex for five years, “Bed bugs. People have been living here, getting sick, there’s mold, you have bed bugs, your exterminator isn’t coming. People are complaining all the time, every day, and nothing is being done.”
Sutton’s mother attempted to get maintenance done to repair her air conditioning. She finally gave up and bought her own AC unit for the window.
The garbage has now been collected, but just last week it was piled high outside of the units. Tenants were forced to pile their garbage bags on the sides of the dumpster and deal with the smell for days on end.
Jeffery Miller has lived at the complex for over a year. He says it’s actually not all that bad right now compared to other stretches of time.
“We’ve gone without AC for weeks at a time, no gas for almost a week,” Miller said.
Chelsea Newell has lived at Bingham Apartments for seven years. She has called into work multiple times after waking up without hot water to shower.
“No hot water, one morning I woke up and there was no water at all,” Newell said.
Newell is so frustrated with the situation she is taking matters into her own hands and starting a petition. Her petition pointing out the conditions are unlivable. She said requests for maintenance go unanswered and despite residents being told utilities are included in rent, they have been shut off on multiple occasions.
And now, that is about to change as well.
Many residents moved to the complex because utilities were included in the rent payment. However, a note sent to residents on Oct. 1, stated residents must now pay the utilities on their own and put them in their name.
Many residents expressed to WRTV this is something they are not able to do. Along with the utility changes, rent is also increasing hundreds of dollars.
For Porter, her one-bedroom ground floor unit is going from $445 a month up to $649.
“Now, I have the paperwork right there I have until November the 1st I have to go up there and sign a new lease and the one-bedrooms are starting at $649 a month,” said Porter, who is currently on a fixed income. She said she feels like she’s between a rock and a hard place.
“I’m going to keep praying because if I’m doing the right thing god ain’t going to lead me astray and he definitely isn’t going to leave me homeless,” she said.
WRTV stopped by the manager's office at the apartment complex but no one was around. WRTV also called the number and no one answered.
Kimberly Townsend, the CEO of Anderson Housing Authority, is trying to help the people who live at the complex.
Townsend said right now there are 21 families who live at Bingham Apartments who are on Section 8 housing vouchers. Last week she started the process of having staff reinspect those 21 units to see if living conditions are up to standards.
“Because of all the complaints we decided that we would just reinspect all of the properties,” Townsend said.
While she is only responsible for the 21 families on Section 8 vouchers, she is trying to assist all of the residents at the complex amid the conditions and the changes with utility and rent.
“We have been talking to some non-profit organizations about assisting tenants with utilities should they need to get utilities in their name and pay past bills and things like that,” Townsend said.
Townsend plans to hold a town hall meeting with tenants soon. She also hopes to have a resolution this week regarding assistance with utilities and rent.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Anderson, Tom Broderick, is working to hold the property owners accountable.
Before the current owners bought the property, they presented a plan to rehab the complex to Anderson City Council.
Last year, Anderson’s Redevelopment Commission agreed to fund some of the plan, $935,000.
The proposal called for the rehabilitation of all units, including new exterior windows, new heating, and air conditioning units, repaving of the parking lots, sidewalks, installation of new security cameras and installation of new patio doors. A contract was entered into with the ARC and the developer.
The city acquired the money through a TIF (tax increment financing) bond. The bond is paid back by the increase in taxes due to the new property valuation.
After the agreement was made the complex was purchased and renovations began. So far, the parking lot has been repaved and windows have been replaced. The city began receiving complaints about living conditions and several city departments took action on the complaints and the Anderson Redevelopment Commission had their legal team investigate the matter.
Broderick said that the owners assured the city they will complete the terms of the contract and follow the building code.
The company also told the city that pandemic-related issues have slowed down the project.
Broderick said they are continuing to monitor all aspects of the project and will take legal actions if necessary.
For families who currently live in the Bingham Apartments and want to learn more about their tenant rights or want details on how to receive assistance, they can call the Anderson Housing Authority at 765-641-2620.