Demand for change: Tenants take fight against dangerous apartments to City Hall

HOUSTON – Three weeks after the release of a scathing report citing critical failures in the way the city of Houston responds to dangerous health and safety issues at area apartment complexes, tenants took their fight for change to City Hall.

"The situation in which we live is exhausting, overwhelming, and frustrating," said renter Sheila Abraham. 

The investigation by the University of Texas School of Law outlined several recommendations on which tenants hope the city will take action. 

Recommendation 1: Provide protections and resources for tenants to address dangerous apartments, including creating a tenant advocacy center. 

Recommendation 2: Increase resident and community access to apartment safety information and engage the community to assist with tackling problem rental properties.

Recommendation 3: Overhaul the city of Houston’s databases for health and safety violations at apartments. 

Recommendation 4: Reform the city of Houston’s proactive apartment inspection and registration programs.

Recommendation 5: Consolidate city oversight and enforcement of health and safety issues at apartment complexes. 

Recommendation 6: Strengthen the City’s enforcement of health and safety standards at apartment complexes, especially against repeat offenders. 

Recommendation 7: Conduct an audit of the Police Department’s apartment enforcement unit and F.A.S.T. programs to determine opportunities for improvement. 

Recommendation 8: Adopt cost recovery policies for problem rental properties. 

Recommendation 9: Strengthen the Houston Housing Authority’s property standards for complexes renting to tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers. 

In a statement to Channel 2 News, Mayor Turner's Interim Press Secretary Mary Benton said they will evaluate the recommendations. 

"Mayor Turner believes no one should live in substandard housing. This issue has challenged the city for many years. The mayor encourages the UT Clinic not only to point out the problems but also offer solutions or recommendations on how the city could find additional resources -- to hire more inspectors, for instance," Benton said.

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