MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Richard Hamlet is at the center of two federal investigations, and now WREG has learned Hamlet, the owner of several low-income apartment complexes, gave himself a pay raise the same year problems at those complexes began to unfold.
After years of dodging our cameras, Chief Consumer Investigator Zaneta Lowe caught up with the Global Ministries Foundation CEO and asked him about not only the money he makes, but also if he had anything to say to taxpayers and residents who lost so much.
GMF raked in millions of taxpayer dollars for its Section 8 properties and then lost federal funding at two Memphis complexes because things were so bad, forcing hundreds of people to move. GMF also made national headlines for its other apartments across the country where residents were living in filth.
Fences surround the boarded up apartments at Warren and Tulane. Warren will be demolished, while the new owners are planning a major rehab project at Tulane.
Global Ministries' religious nonprofit, which is separate from the housing organization, pays Hamlet's salary.
Tax documents filed in late 2016, now publicly available, show he pulled in $497,000 in 2015. It was a bump of only $2,000 compared to the previous year, but it's one that's climbed more than 30 percent in the last five. Hamlet also gets a housing allowance and other benefits that take his total package to $562,000.
"Look, I have a board, and we have, you know, to pick at that," Hamlet said. "If that's the best thing you can do with your time, God bless you. Well it's not the best thing I can do with my time, we could go over every single item and...take a look at, talk about the sewage, we can talk about everything else...yeah, we made mistakes."
It was the spring of 2015 when city code inspectors found hundreds of violations at Warren, Tulane and Goodwill Village. Residents were living with rodents and cracked ceilings, and even repairs were shoddy.
When HUD pulled funding at Warren and Tulane in 2016, they said things were so bad that raw sewage was on the ground.
"The residents are going to have modernized housing. We're doing what HUD would not let us do. I have done this voluntarily. My heart was to help these residents when we went into this program years ago and it didn't work out, and I'm sorry and I apologize for that and I'm just going forward with our plan."
In an email, GMF told WREG it had a plan to make improvements at the properties, but it says HUD cut those short as scrutiny about its problems increased.
"When we bought it, it was a difficult situation. But we did not get the cooperation we needed from people who were partners with us in the program. But I do apologize the residents had to go through that."
The sale should be finalized by the end of the year, but Millennia is already handling day to day operations at GMF's complexes. It already bought Warren and Tulane in a separate deal.
While tax records for 2016 weren't available for WREG to review, Hamlet says he took a voluntary, 40 percent pay cut for that year.