Today the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) filed a Housing Discrimination and Rental Assistance Demonstration Program complaint against The Michaels Organization, the current owners of the Fulton and Randolph/Idlewood affordable housing complexes, on behalf of two families. The complaint details how, when residents notified the property managers about serious health and safety issues in their apartments—including sewage leaks and the lack of running water—The Michaels Organization relocated them to motels far from their communities, schools, and jobs, with virtually no additional supports. Often, the families were given little notice or time to pack or told how long their motel stay would last.
Families spent weeks in these outlying motels, in small rooms or suites with inadequate space or appliances for cooking. Children were moved into new school districts with some unable to attend school for significant amounts of time. Forced to live far from their jobs, friends, and other supports, these families have struggled to afford the new transportations expenses incurred.
“This displacement has had an effect on my mental, financial and physical health. I do believe because I am a recipient of subsidized housing I am not being treated equally or fair,” said Shaneqa Thomas, one of the women named in the complaint. “During this process I have been patient and communicative with the leasing office the entire 69 days, despite my personal belongings being destroyed, my children’s inability to attend school due to limited transportation, and the financial strain. My only request has been to come home to a livable home that is sufficient and adequate.”
“LAJC has heard from multiple households in these complexes about significant issues ever since the new property manager took over and began renovations, including rodent and other pest infestations, families being forced to use outdoor portable bathrooms, and having no hot water,” said Victoria Horrock, a Senior Attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “Then the “fix” from the property managers is frequently just as problematic. These families live on very tight financial margins and are given no choice but to stretch it to the limit in order to save The Michaels Organization a little money on hotel rooms.”
The complaint demands immediate repair of tenant’s apartments, damages for the family’s losses due to the mismanagement of The Michaels Organization as well as stable, appropriately sized housing with transportation to school, work, and appointments for the duration of the renovations. It also seeks to bar The Michaels Organizations from participation in the any future redevelopment processes (called Rental Assistance Demonstration or RAD) going forward.