INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After watching federal agents tour her south side housing complex, a resident asked a FOX59 reporter if he would like to see the inside of her apartment.
“You’re looking at a hole from rats that’s been in my unit,” she said, pointing out the floor eaten away beneath her kitchen cabinets. “This situation has been happening in my unit for over three years that I been here and what you’re looking at is mold, rat holes, and things they would steal from the house and outside and that’s where they would come in and nest and egg and eat.”
The woman said she has killed at least four rats up to six inches long in her apartment.
“Mold under there, too,” she said as she opened the doors beneath her kitchen sink. “I’ve never personally complained about the mold under here because I never go under here because of the rat situation.”
The woman has two young children who live her at the Stonekey Apartments in the 1500 block of Renton Street.
“I feel like my little baby he’s very curious. He’s very brave. He likes to experiment with things and loves animals and I’m afraid one day he might act like the rat is his friend and pick it up and it may attack him.”
Agents from the Officer of Inspector General from the Department of Housing and Urban Development walked the complex of duplex-style single level apartments with cameras and notebooks in hand while a maintenance man who said he was the on-site manager watched and claimed the property had recently received a passing grade from HUD inspectors.
“I’m not here to argue with you,” said an inspector.
Stonekey is one of five Indianapolis properties belonging to Global Ministries Foundation, a Tennessee-based religious organization that owns five apartment complexes in Marion County.
Rev. Richard Hamlet is president and CEO of GMF and recently the target of Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who complained from the floor of the Capitol that the Memphis executive is a real estate businessman operating under the guise of a not-for-profit religious entity.
“Global Ministries Foundation has over forty properties in multiple states,” said Rubio in a May speech in front of the U.S. Senate. “In Alabama, in Florida, in Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee and Georgia.”
HUD pays direct Section 8 subsidies to GMF for tenants at its Stonekey property where one woman’s lease for a monthly rent of nearly $700 is totally paid for by the government.
“So, you’re asking yourself, ‘So you have these owners of all these units, and they’re getting this federal money under this HUD contract, where does all the money go?’” Rubio asked during his address. “What are they doing with all this money that they make?”
Rubio said he had reviewed GMF’s tax records.
“The IRS reports also show that between 2011 and 2013, Global Ministries Foundation, the landlord that owns all of these units and all of these buildings that your taxpayer money is paying for, they shifted $9 million away from the low income housing not-profit to its religious affiliate,” he said. “You have these buildings that are crumbling, you have these people living in these deplorable conditions and in addition to (Hamlet) paying himself a half a million dollars and his family another $200,000, they took nine million dollars and instead of using it to fix these units, they transferred it to their not-for-profit other entity they had for religious purposes.
“Let me tell you what Global Ministries Foundation is. It is a slumlord. They are slumlords and there are people that are living in these deplorable conditions while your taxpayer money is going into their bank account and they are laughing at us.”
GMF has been sued by its banker, stripped of its HUD contracts in Memphis and forced to put some of its properties up for sale.
The Memphis HUD default led the Indianapolis Housing Agency, which monitors and pays for the residences at four other GMF properties, to charge the corporation with fraud and seek more than $600,000 in repayments due to substandard housing issues.
IMPD reports that it made more than 600 runs to the Stonekey location alone in 2015 and 2016 and years earlier declared the property, “a public nuisance.”
Attempts to seek comment from Stonekey management and Rev. Hamlet at GMF were unsuccessful.
Back at Stonekey trash piled up on some back porches as maintenance men drove across the freshly cut grass and watched the outsiders walk their site.
“You’re actually looking at another rathole that goes from my unit to my next door neighbor’s unit,” said the resident as she pulled her stove away from the kitchen wall.
“So you share rats?” she was asked.
“Oh, yeah,” answered the young mother. “We share everything. Bed bugs. Rats. Everything.”