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Tenants Neglected at Macon Garden Apartments | News

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Tenants Neglected at Macon Garden Apartments
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Some tenants at a Macon apartment complex have complaints about the conditions they live in.

Public money pays most of the rent at the Macon Garden Apartments, and a federal agency admits they haven't followed up on problems there.

Jennifer Willis lives in an apartment where the air conditioning is broken.

"It's just a shame that we have to live out here and let people know, 'Yeah we live in Macon Garden,' and it just don't feel like home. I hate coming home," she says.

This is the Macon Garden Apartments in west Macon. 13WMAZ's Judy Le visited several units where mold grows on carpets, the walls have holes, and windows are boarded-up.

And your tax dollars help pay the rent.

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone, not even the poor. Maybe the poor is living better than us," says Willis.

Several other tenants had the same complaints. Shavonaree Lundy often visits her daughter at Macon Garden, a HUD Section 8 subsidized housing complex for low-income tenants.

"Shatandra's been here for seven years, and her units been out for five years," says Lundy.

Lundy and Willis say they contacted the office several times but only received evasive answers

"She says there's nothing they can do because they have to wait for funds. It's always like we have to wait until we get funds. We gotta wait 'til we have funds, and nothing ever changes," says Willis.

There's a striking different between the apartments facing the street and the ones in back, hidden from view. To get there, follow the cars maneuvering around the potholes.

Lundy says these obstacles plagued the apartments for years.

"If you can have money to fix some of the apartments in the front, why you can't help fix the ones in the back," says Willis.

Tenants pay up to thiry percent of their income toward rent and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pays the rest.

"It's a waste of time going to them. Nothing going to get did," says Lundy.

The complex Is owned by Macon Properties, LTD., which has an address in Atlanta. And they hire a Valdosta company, Ambling Management Company, to actually manage the place. That's who residents talk to.

13WMAZ called Macon Properties several times and left messages on their voice mail. They haven't called back.

The spokesman for Ambling, Corky Gatewood, sent us an email responding to the air conditioning complaints saying, "We did find a total of three AC requests that needed immediate attention. Air conditioners fail, and typically the procedure is to utilize a window type unit."

"She had to buy window units, replace her toilet, refrigerator, hot water heater, carpet," says Lundy.

"Me and my daughter, we're sharing a unit and fans," says Willis.

It's money they shelled out themselves and will never see again.

HUD spokesman Joseph Phillips couldn't tell us exactly how much they've paid the Macon Garden's owners.

But he shared numbers with us that showed HUD and the tenant pay more than a million dollars a year combined in rent and utilities for the 131 apartments.

HUD is also supposed to make sure that the subsidized housing is safe and in good condition. By email, Phillips admitted that hasn't happened.

In May 2011, he wrote that federal inspectors gave the complex a score of 35 out of 100.

Now after that inspection, HUD says the owners are supposed to re-inspect the property themselves, fix the problems, and certify to HUD that their apartments are OK.

They say the owners did, but the federal agency never followed up.

Philllips wrote that because that score was so low, they should've reinspected the apartments within a year to make sure the owners made improvements. But he says they never did.

Because we started asking questions about the complex, Phillips says they'll schedule a new inspection to make sure the Macon Garden Apartments are in liveable condition.

In an email to Judy Le, he wrote, "HUD takes these matters seriously and appreciates you bringing this information to our attention."

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