Monday, May 14, 2018

The Other Heritage House

Perhaps you remember July 2014 when Ben Holder, a very close friend of Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, filed a complaint about the conditions of Heritage House Condominiums. Despite the fact that Mr Holder had never set foot in Heritage House Condominiums, the Greensboro City Council took possession of 177 individually owned properties and threw everyone out.

Update: Some have argued with me that Ben Holder did in-fact visit Heritage House in 2014. Ben Holder was well known for his videos in which he always stared, highlighting the many violations he found on the properties he inspected. I challenged Mr Holder to produce evidence to prove he actually went to Heritage House back in 2014. He avoided the question in his response. Four years have passed and still no evidence.

This was at a time when Greensboro was fast becoming the North Carolina city with the highest eviction rate and the city with the 7th highest eviction rate nation wide.

"Nearly 5,000 renters were evicted here in 2016 — the most recent year available — according to a new survey by Princeton University's Eviction Lab. That ranks us seventh in the nation."

But way back in 2008 another Heritage House had previously made the local news in an article titled, Agapion tenants are last on inspection list:

"But there remains the other side of the coin: the shoddy legacy of Heritage House Apartments. The 42-unit complex, which since 1992 has mostly housed Montagnard refugees from Vietnam, has a history of hundreds of major code violations that have continued unabated since Bill Agapion bought the complex in 1963.

And with only five months remaining before the deadline for every rental property in the city to be inspected under the new law, it was business as usual at the three dilapidated buildings in plain sight of one of the city’s busiest intersections.
“It slipped through the cracks,” inspection supervisor Lori Loosemore said in late June during a visit to Heritage House requested by the News & Record. “This would be a good candidate to take before the Housing Commission and get whole buildings under inspection.”

So did it slip through the cracks again? According to Fox8:

"The victims were a refugee family that came to the area from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016, according to Latosha Walker, North Carolina African Services Coalition operations manager.

Walker said the coalition started to house refugees at at the complex that year, but that stopped just a year later.

"They weren't getting the attention they needed as it related to home repairs," said Walker.

She said the father of the family complained about small fires around the stove three days before the fatal fire."

How many fires would you put out before calling an electrician or other professional to come fix the problem? That's what I thought.

No one died at Heritage House Condominiums but the Mayor and Greensboro City Council took people's homes away from them. These five children aren't the first to die at Heritage House Apartments.  From the linked News & Record article:

"Yet the overall picture is hardly of recent vintage. In 1970 — the year Agapion-Palamaris was born — a group of tenants marched past Agapion’s South Elm office holding a sign: “When does this city plan to do something?”

The answer, presumably, was 2004, when the clock began ticking on the comprehensive citywide inspections. Why then, as of this summer, hadn’t the efforts reached Summit and Cone, the glaring bull’s-eye of the target?"

When does the City plan to do something?

It's now 2018 and still the Greensboro City Council now lead by Nancy Vaughan, fails to hit the target. Inflated crime rates were touted by City Council members to help justify the closing of Heritage House Condominiums but no crime rates for Heritage House Apartments have ever been made public.

Third party inspectors were brought in to access the condition of Heritage House Condominiums after it was closed despite the fact that City of Greensboro inspectors had deemed it safe every year. But across town at Heritage House Apartments it again appears that no one was checking to see if the conditions were safe or not.

When 177 individual property owners can't protect their homes but one rich family can own over $30 Million Dollars in slum properties and get away with it for multiple lifetimes, one can't help but wonder who our Mayor and City Council actually work for.

After all, 48 years is a long time to wait to have your home brought up to code.

And how many more innocent children must die?
Please continue reading The Other Heritage House-- Part 2