City supposed to inspect Section 8 properties every year, but Emery Gardens residents living in filth say it doesn't happen
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The horrible living conditions at Emery Gardens Apartments is a story KAKE News has been following for weeks, and now, some residents say the owner isn't the only one to blame.
Many people live at Emery Gardens using Housing Choice Vouchers (also known as Section 8) which come with strict rules on how well the landlord must maintain the units, but they say the city isn't doing anything about it.
"I feel horrible, you know, that we're here. He shouldn't have to go through this," said Emery Gardens Section 8 resident Lacey Atkins.
Atkins has lived at Emery Gardens for six years with her 9-year-old son Titus. She says the horror stories about the complex we've already seen are only scratching the surface.
"His throat closed one year because he has allergies and we had black mold. And I had to call 911," said Atkins.
"She told me that a baby was being, like its back was like getting eaten by roaches," said Titus, saying he's grown up constantly hearing stories like this from his friends at the complex.
"I would say that they need to do a better job, that there's lives out there that are suffering," said Atkins.
She's talking about the city.
Emery Gardens has 40 units currently participating in Section 8, and it says it sends someone in every single year with a 19-page inspection checklist to make sure units remain livable. It says landlords will lose their Section 8 status if problems aren't fixed promptly.
But Atkins says in her six years there, the city's only ever done inspections a few times, and nothing ever changed.
"I was forgotten. I was forgotten completely," she said.
In fact, if you look at the inspection checklist, even in Atkins' current unit, which she says is by far the nicest one she's ever lived in, it probably shouldn't pass.
Atkins says at the end of the day, she hopes the city will step up and do more for people like her living in Section 8 housing so that other kids don't have to grow up in the horrific conditions that Titus has.
"I pray to God that some good people come in and really take charge and see what's going on. And take it to heart. Try to put themselves in the situation," said Atkins.
We're told Atkins is far from the only person living under Section 8 and having the same problems. One resident tells us in the nearly eight years he's lived there, the city has only inspected once.