Apartments suffer as nonprofit owner shifts funds to mission work

In the kitchen, there’s a moldy, non-working refrigerator, the counters are falling apart, the window frame regularly falls off and the stove is turned off because of a leaky gas line.

The living room and bedrooms have holes in the walls made by rats, exposing electrical wiring. Windows are broken. The hallway is dark because there are no working lights. The moldy bathroom has a leaky roof and the doors are missing knobs.

This federally-subsidized apartment inside the Warren Apartments on Clementine Road looks abandoned, but it’s not. Teresa Jeans and her eight children live there — the youngest is two months old.

Jeans asked her landlord to replace the stove and refrigerator for months, but management refuses, she said, telling her it’s simply too expensive. Jeans told The Commercial Appeal she’s filled out dozens of work orders but maintenance only came once to replace a broken door.

“I don’t know what to do or who to report the problems to,” she said. “They don’t fix the problems. I asked them to replace my refrigerator and stove; she (management company worker) told me she wasn’t going to pay no $1,600 for a new stove.”

Jeans said she moved to the four-bedroom apartment in 2010 when the apartment was in disrepair but its only gotten worse since the property changed ownership. Warren was purchased in 2011 by Global Ministries Foundation, founded by Rev. Richard Hamlet.

GMF purchased the property with another low-income building, Tulane Apartments, using $11.8 million in bond funds issued by a city board created to promote quality affordable housing. According to bond documents, the buildings have significant physical deficiencies, though only $600,000 for repairs at two developments that have over 300 units, bond documents show.

Hamlet promised to make significant repairs and provide literacy programs, job placement and other social programs for the tenants, according to the bond application. Tenants say the only social programs available are free lunches for children provided by a neighborhood church, not Hamlet. There are no building permits on record since Hamlet bought the properties, which would show major renovations.

Last year, federal inspectors gave Warren and Tulane a combined evaluation of 38, a failing score, but GMF continued to collect $2.3 million in rent subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for those buildings in 2014.

Similar living conditions were found in other buildings owned by GMF, including Goodwill Village apartments in Memphis and two other properties in Jacksonville, Florida. Despite those challenges, GMF continued purchasing properties, according to an investigation by The Commercial Appeal Newspaper.