Inspectors find “life threatening” deficiencies at Serenity at Highland

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Memphis, Tenn. --   WREG has learned exactly why a senior, high rise failed its second HUD inspection in two years.

Serenity at Highland is managed by the same company that now owns, and is set to renovate the former Goodwill Village, Tulane and eventually Madison Tower.

While the company hasn`t released its remodel plans yet for Serenity, the report WREG obtained revealed it`s long overdue.

Serenity scored a 56 during its last HUD inspection, conducted in March. It's the second, failing score in as many years for the University of Memphis area, senior, high rise.

Through a Freedom of Information request, WREG obtained a copy of the inspection report.

Of the 24 units inspected, a third had defects. Inspectors cited a total of 22 health and safety deficiencies, including four that were life threatening.

Those were related to electrical issues, such as broken panels and exposed wiring.

Serenity received "0" points for problems in common areas like ceilings with water damage and mold, and multiple doors that don't lock or work correctly.

Inspectors also found roach infestations in common areas and residents' units.

Brad Watkins is the Executive Director of the MidSouth Peace and Justice Center.

"These are people`s lives, and, these are seniors who in many cases have very vulnerable, health situations anyway, and you have an indifferent company that`s going to do the bare minimum to pass inspection," said Watkins.

Watkins told WREG says he's still skeptical about the change, the current management and soon to be new owner, the Millennia Group is promising.

"I hope this results in a positive outcome for everyone, but the past two years have given me no confidence."

Watkins mentioned the ongoing bug infestation at Serenity and continued crime problems at the former Goodwill Village.

Uptick in crime leads Goodwill Village residents asking for more security

Millennia told WREG it addressed the health and safety deficiencies within 72 hours of the March inspection.

In addition, Millennia says it hired a third party to inspect all the units, made corrections and provided that to HUD too.

The company recently announced it obtained $50 million in financing to renovate the former Goodwill Village and Tulane. It is also buying Madison Tower and plans to make renovations there.

In a press released issued Monday, Millennia released the name changes for the communities, saying Goodwill Village is now Cavelier Court and Tulane Apartments is Gospel Gardens.

Millennia acquired Tulane and the Warren Apartments through a court receivership after its owner, Global Ministries Foundation lost its federal funding connected to the complexes.

Global Ministries then became the subject of multiple, federal investigations and shortly afterwards, began trying to sell many of its Section 8 properties.

Millennia began running the day to day operations at Serenity, Goodwill and Madison Tower in 2017. It also owns Memphis Towers.

Watkins says the majority of families living in these communities are women with children, the disabled and at Serenity, seniors who deserve better.

"If we`re going to have people live in these places for the rest of their lives, if is their last stop, then we owe it to them that these are places where they can live their final years in comfort and dignity."

HUD confirmed it will conduct a re-inspection at Serenity in November or December.

Millennia says its acquisition of the property should be final by the end of the year. The spokesperson said once acquired, the company will continue to make improvements so the property is well maintained.

In the meantime, the spokesperson says they'll continue to make repairs and respond to residents' concerns, but don't have renovation plans to announce at this time.

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