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IHA tenant forced to move because of cockroach, mice infestations

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A resident of the Indianapolis Housing Agency’s Hawthorne Place Apartments, who doesn’t want her name used because she fears retaliation, said she is being forced to move because of an infestation in her unit.

Throughout her kitchen and two-story apartment, there is evidence of cockroach and mice infestations that the woman said repeated pest control treatments haven’t curbed.

“The day I moved in, I saw mice running across my floor,” she said, recalling move-in day 18 months ago. “It’s been horrible. I have thrown my kids’ things out, furniture out, because of the infestation and they only come once a month and after you complain to them, they still take their time to come in to get rid of the problem.”

While infestations have been an ongoing concern throughout all IHA properties, officials have said poor housekeeping cannot be discounted as contributing to the problem.

“I am having to throw away food,” said the resident. “I have opened up my oven and seen mice run in my oven. It’s just now to the point where I’m ready to move and which I am ‘cause the infestation is horrible. They’re coming up out of my plugs, the roaches come out of my plugs, my vents, and they just still come and bait.”

What is left of the family’s possessions are bundled up in large plastic trash bags in the living room as the woman awaits a Section 8 voucher to move into a privately owned apartment.

This Thursday, new IHA Executive Director John Hall will issue a report to Mayor Joe Hogsett detailing his first four months on the job.

Last month, Hall said he would give his agency an “F” grade all across the board for its performance in meeting federal housing standards, providing clean and timely housing and maintaining clear and transparent financial records.

Just a few weeks later, Hall has been advised that an auditor has determined IHA is once again in compliance with federal housing rules, the agency is recovering from a difficult 2017 audit and that the agency will be termed a “low risk auditee” in the year to come.

Since assuming his position this past spring, Hall has managed to hire outside contractors to perform overdue maintenance and ready apartments for new tenants, bump occupancy rates up to 91 percent, discover unrealized cash reserves to add 1,000 additional Section 8 families to the rental assistance program by the end of the year, and whittle down an outdated and bloated public housing waiting list.

Hall has also shuffled managers, shaken up staff and threatened to fire employees who fail retraining.

“People’s afraid of being evicted if they just speak out so a lot of people don’t even speak out, they just deal with the problem or they move,” said the anonymous Hawthorne Place resident. “They just treat us different because we are low income and that shouldn’t matter. I just feel we should be treated better. I pay my rent. We pay our bills. There shouldn’t be no reason why if I’m telling you that it’s getting worse that they don’t come out and try to handle the situation.”

Hall has launched a “Love Where You Live” campaign for residents and sought to reach out to tenants to empower them in asserting more control over their communities.

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