City says Section-8 apartment unsafe
Wed, 24 Sep 2008 04:37:13 GMT —
A single mother in Jefferson City decided to take matters into her own hands after living in unsafe conditions for months with her small children.Her actions ended up getting her government approved housing deemed uninhabitable by the city.The home, built in 1900, had certainly seen better days when Keitra Jones moved in four months ago with her four children.I didn't like it, Jones says. But I had to have a roof over my kids' head."Before she moved into the upstairs apartment, an inspector with Federal Section 8 Housing program approved it for occupancy.But jones says she experienced problems from day one.I have a problem every day and it's getting worse and worse and can't take it,Jones says.After letters to the program and landlord didn't get any action, Jones paid money out of her own pocket for a home inspector to take a look.I was very, very shocked that a person, period, would be made to live like this, says James Braun, a Certified Master Inspector. Nobody deserves this."It didn't take long for Braun to find problems, he first noticed the stairs leading up to the apartment.He wrote in his report that the stairs have gaps in the railing and that the posts are not secure and could easily be kicked-out.Inside, he found an overloaded electrical system with exposed wiring. He found only one smoke alarm and it didn't work, and a leaking roof.The floor is just all soft right here, if you would jump-you would go through, Braun says while lightly jumping near the washing machine.Basically it's leaked for a year, two years, three years to cause that much rot, he later says while poking a pocket knife into the floor in a bedroom.Braun, a former landlord of Section 8 tenants himself, was surprised when he learned that Jones had just moved in months earlier.Reporter Question: Could any inspector miss what's going on?" Braun: Oh there ain't no way. There ain't no way that many things could have gone wrong in that short of time."Jones also took her concerns to Jefferson City officials.After city inspectors took a look at the house the city deemed the property uninhabitable.In a letter to the landlord, the city found numerous code violations including problems with the stairs, electrical system, roof, fire alarms along with infestation and sanitation issues.The city says the stairs and parts of the electrical system need to be replaced.While our camera was filming the home, the inspector from Section 8 happened to show-up across the street. Mr. Braun walked over and told her what he found during his inspection.Tamara Hellmann, Section 8 Inspector with Central Missouri Community Action: "When I initially inspected it, I did not think it was that bad of a unit. It was vacant and I don't know what has transpired in the amount of time since I have been there."Hellmann says her inspection checklist is different from Jefferson City and private home inspectors.We are not code enforcers," Hellman says. What we look for is that it has a handrail and that the stairs are in working condition that they are not rotted. Those steps meet those critieria but they don't meet the city's criteria."The same landlord that owns the house Jones lives in also owns three other houses on the same block.Records show that in July, the city cited another one of them for code violations. And I discovered that another one of the landlord's homes on the block is not passing Section 8's inspection and that the tenants may move out.It was condemned, Jones says. But it's almost three weeks now and I'm still here."After the city's findings, Jones will now be given a voucher to find another place to live.The Section 8 says the residents choose where they want to live, they just approve it.The landlord received $695 a month from the 3 bedroom apartment.The landlord says he will comply with the city's requests but says that he did try, numerous times, to fix the leaking roof.As for the stairs, the landlord says the city approved them about 5 years ago. The building regulations director for Jefferson City says his department has no record of that.