‘We’re in dire straits’: Residents express frustrations over apartment complex

Published: September 5, 2018 6:43 PM EDT
Updated: March 21, 2019 5:09 PM EDT

People who live in the Jones Walker Palm Gardens apartment complex say they worry every day about what their children breathe, what might crawl on them and what they’re exposed to.

Residents say the conditions are getting worse. So bad, some units have been marked unsafe by the city. Now a city official, and the The Department of Housing and Urban Development came Wednesday to inspect the living conditions. Neighbors say they can’t wait any longer for something to be done.

Single mother Ebony Lee is fighting for her family and their health.

“I’d rather live under the bridge before I live here,” Lee said.

Lee expressed her frustrations with the problems she said she’s faced while living at the apartment complex.

“Mold is cosmetic? People getting sick, that’s cosmetic? No that’s not,” Lee said.

Lee says she’s asked management and the city for help. Instead she said she has to deal with molds, pests, poor plumbing, and crime, just like the rest of her neighbors.

“The main issue is the blockage in the pipes in the wall because we cannot use the bathroom properly,” said resident Helen Crowley. “We cannot flush toilet paper down the toilet. We have to physically take that out ourselves every time it’s used.”

The property manager on site claims the problems here are just surface issues. Those living here disagree.

“Problems you’re just covering them up which becomes a bigger problem,” Crowley said.

H.U.D. lasted inspected in June. The manager says they have six months to make the repairs, but H.U.D. came back Wednesday.

“Why is it just now, someone coming today the day after the city meeting?” Lee asked.

Now neighbors demand action, instead of just talk and inspections.

“We’re in dire straits here,” Crowley said. “This is no longer the talking stage, this is for real.”

What’s next for the people living in the complex?

H.U.D will look at the results from its inspection and then decide its next steps.

The Fort Myers City Council also promised to help people get vouchers to move, but they haven’t offered anything concrete to those who live here or WINK News.