Residents Question Conditions in Apartments Across Hartford

Dozens of complaints involving tenant issues in Hartford all trace back to the same property owner, and now residents are demanding action of city leaders and housing officials.

The complaints include things like windows being nailed shut, doors broken, mice infestation issues and more.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters requested documents from the city of Hartford and learned that 22 of 30 properties owned by Ah Min Holding, LLC of New York City have complaints on file.

Residents are threatening a rent strike.

The Troubleshooters poured through hundreds of pages of open and closed complaints and violations from Hartford's License and Inspections office.

There were a total of 129 complaints since 2011 for apartments owned by Ah Min Holding - a dozen of which remain active. Five were unfounded. Mice issues topped the list at 19 - followed by other rodents - eight, and roaches - seven.

Complaints also included no heat, broken refrigerator, no lights in hallway, bad smells in basement, clogged drain.

Tenant Yolanda Gonzalez told NBC Connecticut, “there's issues, there's mices in the properties. When you tell them they do nothing about it."

Dozens of other tenants living in these apartment buildings across Hartford's north end say conditions are deplorable.

"For over two years I complain about the roaches and mice, manager didn't respond," said resident Joshua Serrano.

The company Ah Min Holding, LLC out of New York City, has 30 properties in Hartford, 26 of which are subsidized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Milagros Ortiz is another resident who has filed a complaint.

“My windows were broken. They fixed them by nailing them shut. If there’s a fire blocking my door how will my children escape?" she said.

Some tenants said they are afraid to show their faces, out of fear they'll get evicted.

One unidentified mother of four who spoke with NBC Connecticut has a brand new baby and ceiling leak.

“The landlord you barely see him, you gotta argue and deal w/the office. Nothing getting fixed. There's mold," she said.

Others shared photos of mice traps and droppings.

Teri Morrison, “I've experienced mice on my stove while I'm cooking."

Many of the tenants are now banding together with the Christian Activities Council filling a local church to demand action.

On Tuesday Reverend AJ Johnson put community and HUD housing leaders on the spot.

"Will you provide apartments free from mice and mold, do you agree?” he asked of city leaders and HUD leaders.

HUD leaders in Hartford and out of Boston now promise change.

“As you've heard we've committed to all you've asked us to do. we don't want you to be afraid to speak up to your local HUD office,” said Suzanne Piacentini with HUD.

Joe Crisafulli of HUD actually apologized to the residents and said things would change.

NBC Connecticut also reached out to Ah Min Holding for comment.

This is the full statement from Emmanuel Ku, owner of Ah Min Holding.

“Ah Min Holding, LLC is aware that several tenants have issues with housing at Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments (CARA). In particular Ah Min is aware and concerned about the increased rodent activities in the last several months due to the recent demolition of the meat packing building close by. Ah Min has worked continuously with the exterminating company to combat the problem. Progress is being made but the issue is not yet resolved. Ah Min encourages all tenants to sign up and partake in the free exterminating services for their apartments which Ah Min offers twice a week when the exterminator comes to provide treatment in the common areas of the property. We have undertaken recommendations irrespective of the cost by the exterminator. It is our mission to provide a safe and clean living environment to all tenants at CARA. Similarly, in 2011-2012 Ah Min fought to combat crime in the neighborhood by installing surveillance cameras on the property. The problem was not solved overnight but working together with the tenants and the police department, CARA became a safe place to live, walk and play. In 2012, 2013 and again in 2016 CARA received written commendations from the City of Hartford Police for their cooperation and efforts to combat crime in the community. CARA cares about the community and on a daily basis assist with cleanup of the surrounding neighborhood.

Christian Activities Council (CAC), a community base advocacy group, has complained to Ah Min’s owner and staff about the rodent problem. Ah Min welcomes the opportunity to work with CAC to resolve this and other issues. Ah Min has held tenant meetings in the past which have proven to be very productive in engaging tenants to learn about issues and working together to resolve them. Unfortunately, CAC unilaterally scheduled a meeting for Tuesday July 11th with less than one week notice. Due to a scheduling conflict, I am unable to attend. I have requested CAC on two separate occasions to work with me to reschedule to a new date but no one at CAC has responded to my requests. I look forward to meeting with the representatives of CAC. In the meanwhile, Ah Min will continue to hold tenant meetings to resolve issues at CARA.”

The City of Hartford also responded to the concerns:

“Several weeks ago, we were made aware of the severity of unreported violations at this group of properties. Since then we have been in touch with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as they have begun a thorough inspection process. The conditions in many of these apartments remain absolutely unacceptable, and we are grateful to residents for raising their concerns. We encourage residents to contact the city to report their complaints and allow our inspectors to review their property because it helps us build a record of problems we can refer to. Property owners have an obligation to provide safe and secure housing, and we will be as aggressive as possible in making sure these problems are addressed effectively,” Hartford Kiley Gosselin, Deputy Director of Hartford's Department of Development Services said in a statement.

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