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Residents Say Living Conditions Are Dangerous

Updated: Tuesday, June 24 2014, 06:09 PM CDT
There was raw sewage outside; inside it's dangerously hot. It's also what people at an Austin apartment complex say they have been living with for a long time.  This is all happening at the fairway village apartments off of Montopolis Drive in southeast Austin.

"As you look up here you can see where the water is starting to drip" Marisol Guana says pointing at wet spots on her ceiling.  She says her a-c isn't providing relief. "Upstairs it's very hot it feels like an inferno" she continues.

We walked upstairs with a thermometer to see how hot it is, and after three minutes, it showed it was 90 degrees in the apartment.

Despite her reports to management, Guana says her system has not been fixed.  We took her concerns to the city.   

Code compliance division manager Todd Wilcox says the complex has had several violations and is on the repeat offenders program, but as far as the broken AC he said "it would make the units sub-standard, not a dangerous issue so we give them time to correct it and don't classify it as a dangerous condition."

Meteorologists and doctors disagree. The national weather service puts our temperatures with low nineties and 70% humidity (we had around 69% last week) in the dangerous category.  The CDC says people 65 years and older, and infants and children are more prone to heat stress. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. In fact, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States.

One man we spoke to off camera says he has a three week old infant in an apartment with no AC.  Still Wilcox says "generally on maintenance type issues like that we them [management] up to 30 days."

"We asked Guana how long she's had problems.  She replied "About a year… a full year!"
 
Guana isn't alone in her problems.  9 to 10 times a day I have to empty this right here" explained Veronica Rodriguez standing in her hallway.  Her ac is also leaking, creating a slipping hazard right at the top of the stairs.  "She slipped from here all the way down" she said referring to her six months pregnant niece.

The city has given property owners warning citations, and has a compliance officer on site every week.

The problems however persist.  Wilcox says his office may not fully be aware of all the problems.

"They have to call them in; the problem is we've had 19 calls in the past 9 months.  So if we don't know about them, we can't get them to fix them" he explained.  

We did speak to the new owners of the complex.  They say grants will help pay for the four million dollar renovation project that will fix everything.  It won't be complete for five to six months, leaving these families to sweat it out, through the hot Texas summer.

If you live in this apartment complex, or any other house or apartment with problems, you're encouraged to call 3-1-1 or your code compliance office to report unsafe living conditions.  We'll continue to follow this story and monitor management's commitment to fix the problems.

By Melanie LoftonResidents Say Living Conditions Are Dangerous


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