North side apartment complex owners face $400,000 tax bill over ‘disgusting’ conditions

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INDIANAPOLIS — Members of a county tax board revoked a north side apartment complex owner’s charitable tax exemption for the second time in a year and a half, citing deplorable conditions at the complex that had not been remedied.

CBS4 began reporting about issues at Lakeside Pointe at Nora apartments in 2019, after residents complained about major problems that management was slow to fix.

Photos taken inside the complex by neighborhood advocates over the past year and a half show mold growth, flooding and ceilings that caved in due to leaks. Those advocates, led by Patchwork Indy’s Claire Holba, reported surveying more than 100 residents in December about ongoing issues in their units.

“13% of households surveyed had no heat … for weeks, 71% had a major issue,” Holba said.

Resident Regina Jones, who used to work for management at the complex, joined Holba and others at a Friday meeting of the Marion County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

“I went a couple weeks ago without hot water for five days,” Jones said. “It’s just a sad situation that we’re living in right now and it’s just not liveable, especially at this time of year.”

Board members agreed, moving to revoke the tax exemption and send owners an April bill for both 2020 and the first half of 2021 taxes, totaling $430,000.

“The definition of a charity is to help people. Having people live in these conditions isn’t helping them,” board member Greg Rathnow said.

“This is my opinion, that I think that it’s a shame and you guys took advantage of people and it’s disgusting,” board member Kevin Robinson said.

The complex’s out-of-state owner, JPC Charities, obtained the property tax exemption in 2006 by claiming it offered charitable services in the form of affordable housing.

At Friday’s meeting, a representative with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development testified that the department did not believe JPC Charities met the standard of an affordable housing provider and recommended that it should not receive the tax exemption.

The board had previously revoked the complex’s exemption over similar issues, then reinstated it in December 2019 after a regional property manager and attorney for owners promised to clean up the property and offer more services to residents.

Since then, the Marion County Health Department reported that the complex has racked up more than $50,000 in fines and court costs for multiple housing violations.

At Friday’s meeting, the regional property manager noted that charitable services had stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic and said efforts were underway to restart them and keep up with health department cases and resident work orders.

“Certainly there continue to be things that need to be improved, but I don’t think it’s fair to say to the owner and the management (have) done nothing,” attorney Paul Jones, representing JPC Charities, said.

Holba said neighborhood advocates do not want to see the complex condemned, but would like to see either current or future owners renovate the property and provide appropriate affordable housing services.

“Our ultimate goal is that safe, dignified affordable housing can be brought to the Lakeside Pointe at Nora community,” Holba said.

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