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Berkley Commons apartment complex sold, Citizens Energy receives debt payment

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-20 18:45:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS — JPC Affordable Housing has closed the sale of one of four apartment complexes after a legal battle over nearly $2 million in unpaid utility bills.

A settlement reached in September required JPC Affordable Housing and Berkley Commons LLC to sell the properties — Berkley Commons, Capital Place, Covington Square and Woods at Oak Crossing — and bring in new landlords.

PREVIOUS: Agreement reached: Utilities at 4 Indianapolis apartment complexes will not be shut off

The settlement came from a 3-way lawsuit with the city, Attorney General's office and Citizens Energy against the owners. The properties must sell by December 31. New management with no ties to previous owners must take over.

On Tuesday, a Citizens Energy spokesperson told WRTV they recently received $470,219.52 from the proceeds of the complex sale to apply toward the outstanding utility bill amount for the Berkley Commons property.

"JPC had made a preliminary payment of $314,527.49 to Citizens soon after the settlement agreement was signed this past summer, and has also stayed current on the utility bills for water, gas and sewer service at its properties.," Citizens said. "Throughout the past two years, Citizens’ primary goals have been to prevent utility disruption to the JPC apartment residents and to protect our customer base from bearing the full cost of JPC’s mounting debt. We are pleased we are now approaching a final resolution of JPC’s debt."

The other three properties have not sold yet.

The utility says, "Citizens is hopeful JPC will soon complete the sale of its other three properties in Indianapolis – Woods at Oak Crossing, Covington Square and Capital Place – so further proceeds can be applied to their outstanding utility debt."

In February, the city paid $850,000 to restore services for residents at Capitol Place and Berkley Commons. The water had been shut off after the owners failed to pay Citizens, even though landlords at both complexes had been collecting utility bill money from tenants.

"JPC is a nonprofit organization. They promised to provide housing under that status. They delivered inadequate substandard housing and that's never the deal," Attorney General Todd Rokita said in September.

WRTV Investigates has been following this story for months andin September traveled to Ohio to get answers from management.

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We showed up at the front door of Thomas Kern's home.

JPC's latest tax filings, which are from 2018 and 2019, list Kern as the treasurer, secretary and director.

WRTV: "How did we get in this situation?"

Kern: "I can't tell you how. I can tell you that it's absolutely unfortunate and I think everyone is saddened by this."

WRTV: "Residents are paying their bills, but where is the money going?"

Kern: "I don't know. Unfortunately, I wasn't on the, I haven't been on the board for years. Since 2018."

Kern denies responsibility. He says he resigned from the nonprofits' board in 2018.

WRTV: You are listed as a director and officer on the board. What is your involvement?

Kern: I am not on the board and have not been. I believe my resignation was in 2018. As far as my involvement, I have none other than after I got sued I started watching from afar and my heart goes out to the residents.

WRTV: "You're saying you have no involvement into bills going unpaid?"

Kern: "No. I have no involvement in that."

Kern was dropped from the lawsuit. He says he hopes the residents get the answers they are looking for.