The state has launched an investigation into a former Hartford landlord accused of neglecting his properties and tenants for years, Attorney General William Tong announced Wednesday.
Tong said from 2011 to 2018, Ku operated 26 buildings in Hartford’s North End. The Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments (CARA) accounted for 150 federally subsidized, low-income apartment units, which Tong said became unsafe and unsanitary.
“By 2018 Emmanuel Ku had racked up hundreds of HUD and city violation notices because these apartments had become virtually unlivable,” said Tong at a news conference held outside one of the former CARA buildings on Hartford’s Albany Avenue.
Tenants reported roaches, mice, and black mold. The investigation claims some apartments lacked basic functions, including heat, hot water and working toilets.
HUD requires all federally subsidized housing to be decent, safe and sanitary. Some who lived in those apartments said those units failed to meet this criteria.
“For us for so long, these were horrendous,” said Joshua Serrano, a former tenant. “We categorized them as third world country type living situations.”
Teri Morrison said she had mice in her walls and even saw mouse climb thru her stove top, while she was cooking. She said tenants she’s spoken with had worse conditions.
“Sometimes in some units you see two bathrooms covered with mold. You see holes in the floor,” she said. “I saw a lady who had a piece of plywood over her bathroom floor and if you pick it up you can see downstairs into the next apartment.”
Cori Mackey, executive director for the Center for Leadership and Justice, said Ku should’ve never been allowed to operate HUD housing in Hartford.
“He was flagged in HUDs system for his egregious behavior across the country,” said Mackey. “He was voted New York City’s second worst slumlord in the entire city and yet we still handed him this contract.”
Ku sold the Clay Arsenal apartment buildings in 2018, just after his contract with HUD was abated.
Tong said Ku sold the properties for a profit of $6.5 million, more than three times his purchase price. Tong said this investigation will ultimately seek a return of some of that money.
“This guy made millions of dollars off of not honoring his obligations to these residents and we want that money back,” said Tong.
As part of the investigation, the attorney general seeks hard evidence, including tax, maintenance, and inspection records.
Attempts to reach Emmanuel Ku were unsuccessful.