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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2012

Greenbelt Place residents rally for improved health, safety conditions

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Resident Simmie Lassiter speaks as residents of Greenbelt Place apartments hold a rally at the complex. Resident Simmie Lassiter speaks as residents of Greenbelt Place apartments hold a rally at the complex.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Greenbelt Place apartment residents today called for management to improve health and safety conditions at the complex and said they will form a tenant organization to help give residents a voice.

More than a dozen tenants, and representatives from the North Toledo community group United North and its One Village Council gathered at the complex outside the central office building to rally support for their cause.

Complex residents have complained of infestations of cockroaches, bedbugs, and mice, unlocked exterior doors, missing fire extinguishers, and demands by management for rent that's been paid. They claim management has been unresponsive to their concerns.

Resident Kisha Vinson said her son has developed allergies since they moved into the complex at Cherry Street and Greenbelt Parkway, and attributed the allergies to the bug infestations.

The apartments, built in 1971, have long been plagued by complaints of poor upkeep, and have had frequent ownership changes.

United North and One Village Council have helped organize residents and reinstate a tenant organization that disbanded in recent years. Beth Lewandowski, who holds leadership positions with both groups, said that residents have long complained about unresponsive management. The conditions are unfair to residents and the neighborhood, she said.

"It's time to either clean up the Greenbelt Apartments, or shut them down," she said.

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality have offered to represent residents and investigate the living conditions at the complex. Robert Cole, an ABLE attorney, said the organization assisted tenants with similar complaints more than a decade ago and reached an agreement with the then-management group to improve conditions.

The buildings are project-based Section 8 — housing that is owned by a private entity but subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for low-income tenants. Greenbelt’s owners receive up to $140,772 every month in payments from the federal government to provide housing for the low-income residents there.

Property manager Ryan Agee deferred comment on most issues to officials from California-based Intercoastal Financial, who manage the company, but said there had been no retaliation against tenants.

Intercoastal Director of Operations Ann Syms said the company is aware of tenant complaints and was addressing them individually. She rejected allegations the company is unresponsive to resident concerns.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.



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