INDIANAPOLIS — On Wednesday morning when the temperature dipped into the single digits, Christopher Gonzalez said the last time he checked, it was almost as cold inside his apartment as it was outside.
“I don’t want to be in an apartment that is cold already,” Gonzalez said. “Its not really a situation I want to be living in.”
Gonzalez works on the loading dock of a westside trucking company and said that even though his apartment has been without heat for a month, it wasn’t until the thermometer plummeted this week that he decided to relocate to a friend’s place.
“The moment that I came home, and I work outside and it felt like I was still outside, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t do it,” said Gonzalez. “Right now, I will use a space heater, but it takes a while, it takes about an hour, to even warm up a spot, so its difficult actually.”
Housing advocates said they have referred other complaints about a lack of heat to the Marion County Public Health Department, which has an inspector visit the Lakeside Pointe at Nora Apartments every day.
Gonzalez said he has another year to go on his lease at the apartments in the 9000 block of North College Avenue. It’s the same complex that Mayor Joe Hogsett vowed to sue Tuesday unless it makes a serious dent in the hundreds of outstanding Housing Code violations written up by health inspectors.
Fox Lake AHF, Inc., a Newark, New Jersey company, has until January 31st to respond.
The company has not returned a request for comment by FOX59.
“The conditions aren’t very good and they keep getting worse all the time,” said Gonzalez. “In the summertime, the a/c was out. It took eight or nine months to even try to fix it and every time I would call, ‘Oh, we’re gonna fix it,’ and they never did.
“The bathroom has a bunch of mold right now. Health Department came by. They were going to fix it and I don’t know what’s going on right now.”
In announcing the city’s pending lawsuit to recover emergency services costs and attorney’s fees, Mayor Hogsett said he was also intent on protecting the interest of taxpayers.
“Property owners are obligated to do more than cash rent checks,” said Hogsett. “At the very least, the property that they maintain and own must be habitable.”
Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett told FOX59 that approximately 30 Lakeside Pointe at Nora residents are in rent subsidized units utilizing “portable” vouchers that would follow tenants to new apartments or sites if the Indianapolis Housing Agency determines their current location is in violation of federal housing standards.
“In some cases, residents have used rental assistance to relocate,” said Bennett. “If a landlord chooses not to accept those funds or a landlord is not responsive, then those funds are portable.”
Bennett said tenants can seek help through the Washington Township Trustee’s Office or access the Indianapolis Rental Assistance program.
By bringing more financial pressure to bear on the property owners, and perhaps seeking injunctive relief by a court, Mayor Hogsett said he is hoping for either a change in management philosophy and response or the operation of the complex by another not-for-profit owner.
Gonzalez said he is waiting for a warmer day before he returns home.
“The conditions aren’t very good and they keep getting worse all the time.”