"If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them."
Apparently, there was all sorts of shadiness going down about a week and a half ago in Northeast Austin:
Last Saturday, July 2, the owners of the Cross Creek Apartments retracted more than 30 notices to vacate that had been served on their current tenants. The move comes less than a week after some of the residents – organizing as the Cross Creek Tenant Association – led a march through the Rundberg-area complex to protest the eviction.Soo...despite multiple years of credible complaints, the city drags it's feet on doing anything until the time comes around when they just "happen" to be issuing redevelopment subsidies to the property owner.
The owners recently received $16 million in private activity loans approved by the Austin Housing Finance Corporation to renovate the complex, but the notices to vacate, delivered to more than 30 families living at Cross Creek, violated the AHFC rules and regulations that the owners had agreed to follow. After notices appeared a couple of weeks ago, rumors that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would be called began to spread among residents. Jorge Manchaca, who has lived at Cross Creek for five years, said he was shocked when he received the notice. "I hadn't broken my lease," he said. "I hadn't done anything wrong."
Manchaca said he suspects that the owners – which include TMG-TX, TMG Management, Noelle Affordable Housing Corp., the Mulholland Group, and Royce Mulholland – want to remove current tenants so that the complex can be redeveloped while erasing its troubled history. "[Mulholland doesn't] want witnesses, so he can change whatever he wants and the new residents won't know how bad it's been here," he said. Mulholland did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Amado Ariza, another Cross Creek tenant, said that the owners have let the complex fall into disrepair for a long time. "I've made maintenance requests and no one from the office would respond," he said in Spanish.
In fact, the owners were forced to register with the Code Department's "repeat offender program" at the end of 2014 after numerous complaints were filed by tenants. Last December, the city sued the owners for failing to provide hot water for residents since June 2015, as well as other code violations. State law empowers municipalities to bring civil action against a landowner if it enforces an ordinance related to public safety, although the city has rarely done so. According to the suit, a city inspector had visited the complex 13 times over the course of six months after receiving the initial complaint, and each time the water was still lukewarm.
While it is rare for the city to sue a property owner for these kind of code violations, the sluggishness associated with addressing these violations is all too typical, according to Austin Tenants' Council Executive Director Juliana Gonzales. "It's not uncommon in Austin to see properties with repeated, serious, or longstanding code violations that threaten the health and safety of tenants, and to see those code violations go unresolved for long periods of time because there are not adequate enforcement actions Code can take," she wrote in an email.
In 2014, the Austin Housing Finance Corporation awarded the owners $2 million in general obligation bonds, and then in April of this year they approved $16 million in financing, provided that no tenant was permanently displaced as a result of redevelopment. While the city has taken action in regards to the hot water issue and code violations, it did not take a position on the notices to vacate. "The question should not be whether or not the buildings are up to code, but whether or not they are up to code for the people living there," Krieger said.
[Author's Note: Emphasis in Original.]
Keep in mind, this is the same Austin Code Department executed a SWAT team raid over a tool shed that was six inches out of place.
Which begs the real question: How do you explain the disconnect between the Austin code department's treatment of individual homeowners compared to their treatment of subsidized slumlords?!?