Peeling paint, leaking showers, mice and mold—these are just some of the problems that residents of a Hartford apartment complex say they have been dealing with for years. But now, people living at the Barbour Gardens apartment complex claimed a victory in their fight with management after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced they would help residents relocate to safe housing.
“Watching your child at night and everything, trying to keep the (mice) out of the bed and things like that is a headache, but now some of my worries are coming down now,” said resident Tasha Jordan. “And once we outta there, I will feel much better.”
Jordan is one of dozens of individuals and families who will get help with leaving the 84-unit property, which is owned by New York-based ADAR Hartford Realty, LLC and receives federal subsidized payments to offer low-income housing.
HUD officials said in a statement that the building had “major threats to health and safety.” The property scored a 9 out of 100 on its most recent inspection in October. HUD’s passing score is at least 60.
The federal agency is now in the process of ending its $750,000 a year-Section 8 housing contract with the owner altogether, officials said in a statement.
In a meeting at the Urban Hope Refuge Church Thursday, residents of Barbour Gardens wore black shirts emblazoned with the words “No more slumlords” and held up yellow signs that read, “When you get a 9…It’s time. Relocate Immediately.”
They met with community leaders and elected officials to talk about what happens next.
Rev. AJ Johnson, a church pastor and community organizer with the Christian Activities Council, put an emphasis on the relocation process and avoiding what he said are mistakes that have happened with other defunct subsidized housing properties.
“If not done right this time, residents will end up right back in segregated and poverty-concentrated neighborhoods,” he said. “Residents will face housing discrimination, suburban communities that are actively resisting affordable housing and, to be honest, don’t want people of color living in their suburban neighborhoods.”
Betty Wadley has been a Barbour Gardens resident for more than 10 years. Her bathroom has been leaking for years, causing the ceiling and paint to fall into her bathtub and a bubble in the wall where the water sits, she said.
Action on behalf of the residents was a long time coming, she said.
“It’s an emotional rollercoaster to be on when you’re living in deteriorating living conditions, and no matter how much complaining you do to the management company, it just falls on deaf ears,” she said.
“So all the complaining we did before Christian Activities Council got involved, we were just a property that was just going by the wayside. Nobody knew we were living in those types of conditions.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said this is the third time in less than a year that HUD has pulled an assistance contract from “slumlords” in the area who let their properties deteriorate to the point of “uninhabitable, and inexcusable and deplorable.”
This trend points to a bigger problem, said Rep. Brandon McGee Jr., (D-Windsor, Hartford) who sits on the legislature’s Housing Committee, and who is a candidate for mayor of the city.
“Providing relocation for citizens that live in a neighborhood where resources are plenty for them, transportation is there, family is there, simply telling, you need to go to another neighborhood is not acceptable. We need to figure out how to hold all of these landlords that are buying properties in our cities accountable.”