City of Wichita looking for solutions to poor apartment living conditions
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - "We've got water damage, we've got mold." That was just some of the problems that Vice Mayor Mike Hoheisel and Wichita City Council Member Brandon Johnson saw at the Emery Gardens apartments Friday.
They also found cracked walls, mold growing nearly on every surface, standing water, and even the remains of a cat. "This is unacceptable in the United States of America that we expect people to live like this," Hoheisel told KAKE.
We first told you about the conditions on Thursday. 'We're getting sick and no one cares': Wichita apartment residents describe grim living conditions
The council members came out today after Johnson visited some of the apartments yesterday when residents started tagging him in videos of the conditions.
"You have kids, families, women who are pregnant, who are being exposed to this black mold going through the vent system," said Johnson.
The two say there are several changes when it comes to city code they are looking at to prevent things like this from happening. However that could take months, one option for residents that could be quicker is the Metro Area Building and Construction Department.
"Our goal is, is to get those problems resolved as quickly as possible," MABCD Neighborhood Inspection Administrator KaLyn Nethercot told KAKE.
The MABCD is a joint Wichita and Sedgwick County department that handles all building codes, including looking into issues renters are having with maintenance.
Nethercot says that people having a problem need to document everything they can to help the MABCD with any inspection.
"We want to know what efforts they've made to resolve that already," said Nethercot. "Have they contacted the local property management company? Have they done that in writing? Has the request been denied? Have they even made a request?"
The department says it has been in contact with Emery Gardens over cases before this week but encourages people who are coming forward now to reach out to them.
"If we don't know about it if you haven't contacted the MABCD, then we're at a loss as to what we need to be addressing, and who's going to give us legal access to do that," said Nethercot.
She does urge people to be careful with how they report. The MABCD cannot protect people from being evicted if the landlord gets upset.
Her best advice is to not "withhold rent because repairs aren't being made. It is always a good idea to reach out to a place like Kansas Legal Services, as a tenant, they can help you with your rights if there's money involved. If the financial situation isn't being worked out accordingly, Kansas legal services can offer good advice on that as well. And that's free to low-cost resource for residents."
We reached out to Emery Gardens and its management group via phone and email as well as stopping by the leasing office but no one responded.
For help, you can reach the MABCD by clicking on the blue letters or calling 316-660-9220.
You can reach Kansas Legal Service via these blue letters or 1-800-723-6953