Leaders from the Houston area say they’re floored by conditions at the Sterlingshire Apartments complex, so they say they’re helping residents know their rights, and that help is on the way.
They went on a tour of the property Thursday.
“It is unfathomable,” said Houston City Councilmember At-Large Dr. Letitia Plummer. She is taking action after disturbing images surfaced showing residents living in moldy, pest-infested apartments with faulty appliances.
“For our residents to live in these conditions is devastating. On top of all of that, it’s in our Black and brown communities where we already have health care disparities as well,” Plummer said.
In addition to visiting the complex this evening, Plummer is in the process of writing a city ordinance called Apartment Inspection Reform, or AIR, that aims to create more protections and resources for renters.
”These landlords, they have the resources [and] they’re making the conscious choice not to do anything about it,” she added.
Part of the plan includes adding and training eight new city health and habitability inspectors.
”We have two health inspectors. Only two. And those two take years to get back when people call with complaints,” Plummer said.
Some residents here say they’ve been living under sickening conditions for well over two years.
“I’m very disappointed that the folks at Sterlingshire are giving folks living conditions that there’s nothing sterling about,” said Harris County Pct. 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
Ellis also sent representatives from his office to tour the property.
“What I am encouraging my team to look at is what we can do in terms of putting more legal assistance into tenants’ rights,” Ellis said.
”They have to call 311, they have to make a formal complaint, they have to make a case number, then they call me Councilmember Letitia Plummer. They need to call their district member,” Plummer said.
On the contrary, employees from the complex released a statement that read in part:
“The concerns raised the past two days have never been a problem in the past and the property has never received a citation for these issues.
When issues are raised to the attention of management, we address them. It is important to us to take care of our residents.
One of the units highlighted today is under eviction. That resident would not allow property management to perform maintenance and repairs.
Other units filmed are vacant. Those units were broken into, vandalized, and then filmed. Management has filed a police report.”
Residents living in deplorable conditions can learn about free legal services through Lone Star Legal Aid by calling (713) 652-0077.