INDIANAPOLIS — Residents at two Indianapolis apartment complexes that are linked to the same owner were hoping their water won’t be shut off Thursday due to management companies failing to pay utility bills.
Last Thursday, residents at the Berkley Commons Apartments, located at 8201 Madison Avenue, and the Capital Place Apartments, located at 4100 Centennial Court, received notice from Citizens Energy Groups that their water and wastewater services were scheduled to be disconnected on Feb. 17 unless their property owner took action toward paying a delinquent utility bill. Capital Place Apartment residents were also informed that their gas service was scheduled for disconnect on the same day.
“I was mad because I have a little boy, and we pay the apartment gas and water every month,” said Capital Place resident Brenda Jones.
Wednesday afternoon, there appeared to be progress in keeping the utility services turned on. Officials from Citizens Energy said a management company for both properties had contacted the utility around 3:30 p.m. seeking to make a payment and an arrangement to avoid a shutoff on Thursday. Discussions on the matter were underway late Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, the county health department released the following statement regarding their role in the process:
From our standpoint, the Marion County Public Health Department would cite the property owner for an emergency violation (no water) and the owner would have 24 hours to restore the water service or MCPHD would file the matter for court. MCPHD has a social worker and a resource liaison within its Housing department who can provide tenants with referrals to resources to help meet any needs they might have, including alternate housing/shelter. MCPHD doesn’t provide the services but helps assess needs a tenant may have and refers them to a local resource for assistance.Marion County Public Health Department
While the two complexes have different management companies listed on county property records, FOX59 has learned they are linked to the same non-profit organization that also owns the troubled Lakeside Pointe at Nora Apartments, which are in the process of being sold.
Various tax, court and property records show New Jersey-based non-profit organization JPC Affordable Housing Foundation owns the three complexes, in addition to several others in the area. Officials with the City of Indianapolis believe JPC Affordable Housing Foundation actually owns as many as eight apartment communities in the city, and runs them through multiple subsidiaries with different names. City officials also believe the organization has similar operations in other cities across the country.
Oron Zarum is listed as the president of JPC Affordable Housing Foundation in 2019 tax filings. Attempts to reach JPC Affordable Housing Foundation were unanswered and messages left have not been returned.
“It’s about an out-of-state, negligent, corporate landlord that is clearly abusing Hoosiers in Indiana,” said Indiana State Senator Fady Qaddoura. “Their negligence is impacting families living in these apartment complexes.”
Qaddoura, a Democrat representing the north side of Indianapolis and parts of Hamilton County, is currently working on legislation to give state and local authorities more power when trying to take action against owners of troubled properties.
“To specifically deal with out-of-state negligent corporate landlords who basically exploit Hoosiers in our state,” he said.
In a case like this, when dealing with a non-profit group that oversees affordable housing from another state, Qaddoura said there needs to be more clarity on who has jurisdiction when pursuing legal action.
“Filing as a non-profit and exploiting Hoosiers has an impact on our tax system and our cities because they qualify for property tax exemptions,” Qaddoura said.
“Can you imagine our own kids who are attending our school system will be denied the basic human right to have accessible water,” he continued. “I mean, that’s insane.”