MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Despite promises of major changes under new management, residents at Global Ministries properties in Memphis are still living with some of the same problems.
What’s happening on the inside, isn’t apparent from the outside of Madison Tower where seniors are often seen sitting and relaxing out front.
A resident sent WREG pictures of what he says is overflowing trash that’s attracted bugs, and junk piled up in the parking garage.
He also says for months there’s only been one working elevator at the high rise that houses seniors and people with disabilities.
City of Memphis Code Enforcement complaints paint a similar picture about the same place residents were forced to wade through water a year ago after a pipe burst.
“Haven’t much really changed,” said a Goodwill Village resident. She feared retaliation from management so she didn’t show her face.
Goodwill Village is one several properties Ohio-based The Millennia Companies has agreed to buy from the troubled Global Ministries Foundation.
► GMF selling several properties
The Memphis nonprofit lost federal funding in 2016 and faced major scrutiny for horrible living conditions at complexes across the country.
While the sales are still pending, Millennia took over day-to-day operations more than a year ago.
Residents say the company takes its time responding to work orders. Not only are repairs slow, she said, in some cases, they don’t happen at all.
One resident said one of her two air conditioning units stopped working a while ago.
“They tell us to cut them off, unplug them, let them thaw out and cut them back on.”
If that sounds bad, WREG also discovered the once bed bug-infested Serenity Towers scored a 56 on its most recent HUD inspection, its second failing score in two years.
► IRS audited Memphis board over Serenity Towers’ financing
WREG sent Congressman Steve Cohen details about Serenity, and other Memphis properties with low or failing scores.
One day after our interview, he sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson expressing concern about failing properties, and demanding answers about HUD’s plans to address the problems.
Cohen helped pass a law last year that among several things, includes stricter rules and timelines for HUD after a failing score.
“It’s just not maintaining the properties, as they should and looking out for the public welfare and public safety of the tenants,” said Rep. Cohen.
A HUD spokesperson said the agency is “not pleased” with Serenity’s second failing score and the complex is being referred to its Enforcement Center.
HUD says Serenity will get another inspection within 60 days and Millennia is working on an improvement plan.
Millennia spokesperson Jeffrey Crossman told WREG they expect to close on GMF’s properties by the end of the year. After the deals are final, Madison Tower and Goodwill Village will get complete overhauls.
By email, Crossman described some of the upgrades which includes changes to both the interior and exterior of the properties.
- New roofs
- Kitchen and bathroom cabinets
- Surveillance cameras
He said a plan for Serenity Towers is still in the works and can’t be released yet. Millennia already acquired the now closed Warren Apartments and Tulane Apartments through a court receivership.
He says renovations at Tulane should begin in 2019, while Warren will likely be demolished.
As far as the broken elevator at Madison Tower, Crossman said management is waiting on a custom-made part to arrive for the repair.
Crossman said Millennia Serenity’s failing score isn’t a reflection of the current conditions.
“Management has worked well with ownership to address all health and safety related issues identified during the REAC to ensure HUD compliance and we have continued to work diligently addressing maintenance needs on an ongoing basis.”
“Just hope it’s better, it’s better than Global,” said the Goodwill resident.
She told WREG on site managers recently held a meeting with tenants about the upcoming renovations.
“So the name will change, and we`ll all have new addresses and we`ll all have upgrades, and they`re putting everything new inside the apartments.”
It’s change she’s looking forward to, and for now, patiently waiting on.
“I hope it is a whole new change, I hope the apartments are better than what it is.”
Rep. Cohen’s letter to HUD marks the second this summer about continued problems at GMF properties. Sen. Marco Rubio also voiced concern about issues at a Florida complex where units were actually condemned because of black mold and other problems.
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