“Inexpensive Housing Disaster” in Greensboro

Posted: 08/24/2016 / 8:01 PM EDTUpdated: 8/24/2016 / 8:01 PM EDT

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GREENSBORO, NC – Catherine Brown sits on her front porch. She prefers to be outside, she says, because of the conditions in her apartment.

“Cockroaches, mold, bed bugs,” she said. “I haven’t slept all night. Bed bugs eat me right and left. “

Brown lives in the Executive Center Apartments on Summit Avenue in Greensboro. She says she pays $ 480 rent, but sometimes she thinks it would be better to sleep on the street.

“At least bed bugs wouldn’t get me there,” she said.

Her opinion is shared by other tenants who said they asked the Greensboro Housing Coalition for help. GHC Executive Director Brett Byerly said the GHC petitioned Greensboro City in mid-August for the city to inspect the apartments. These controls are now running.

Code Compliance Division chief Elizabeth Benton said the city has detected more than a dozen violations to date, including bed bugs, cockroaches, damaged lighting fixtures, broken locks, loose floors, and unclean and unsanitary conditions.

Benton said once the inspections are complete, which should be Friday, the city will allow a hearing with the property owner. He then has 30 days to make the necessary repairs. Benton added that while repairs are ongoing, three 30-day extensions could be granted.

Michelle Kennedy, executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, said problems like the Executive Center’s were an example of what she calls an “affordable housing crisis” in Greensboro. She said there weren’t enough financial incentives for developers and landlords to build and maintain high quality, affordable housing.

“The truth is, there isn’t much economic drive for this,” she said. “You won’t make a lot of money with these properties. This is why the least amount of investment is often made. Until the rest of our community says, ‘We can do better,’ I really don’t think that will change. “

Guilford County tax records show Paul Watkins of New York City owning the Summit Avenue property. Tax records show he owes about $ 9,000 in taxes on the Summit Avenue apartments and about $ 7,500 on a property on Yanceyville Street.

Calls to Executive Center management were not answered.

To request an apartment complex inspection from the City of Greensboro, call (336) 373-2111.

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