ST. LOUIS – Residents in the Riverbend City Apartments are once again dealing with raw, seeping sewage running through units and halls of the complex.
From broken down posts to gates that are completely inoperable, the problems here at Riverbend City Apartments have only gotten worse over the last month. Once you step inside, the problems escalate.
“I got up, went to the restroom, and I see my tub filling up, and I said, ‘Wow, it’s gonna happen again,” said resident Moto Harris.
Floors flooded with raw, stinky sewage. It’s something that plagues the floors throughout the apartment complex on South Broadway. It’s the fourth time Harris has been scared to step inside his own apartment. Afraid not only of being electrocuted but also of being subjected to smelly, discolored water spilling onto his floors.
The most recent plumbing problem happened early Wednesday morning, around 2 a.m. By 6 p.m., he told FOX 2 that the plumbers hadn’t even come to the building yet.
What’s worse are the unanswered questions. Harris said Riverbend management had not yet provided him or his neighbors with a timetable for when the issues would be resolved.
FOX 2 first reported on serious health concerns derived from conditions at the complex about a month ago. At the time, city officials said the property was under investigation due to the living conditions. The St. Louis Housing Authority attempted to remedy the problem.
“We immediately contacted the person you interviewed and the other families,” Val Joyner, director of communications for the St. Louis Housing Authority, said.
An inspector was dispatched to the building hours later and met and discussed the issues with a mother dealing with mold, mildew, and sewage in her apartment. That woman and six other families had to vacate immediately.
While they were relocated to other apartments in the housing authority’s purview and saved from sewage, it’s not the reality for many who are left to deal with the ongoing struggles.
“They moved us up to (the eighth floor), and then we started having problems with the tubs, the sink, and the bedroom floors,” said Mykale Mccollier, who lives with her mother, four siblings, and nephew inside a Riverbend unit.
Apartment management’s solution has been to simply move residents to other units. The problems follow.
McCollier said management even admitted to having money problems.
“When the elevator broke down, they said they owed money to a certain elevator company, and they weren’t gonna pay them off,” she said.
For Harris, having broken elevators and flood-ridden floors has only made it harder to care for his disabled wife, who suffers from lupus and other serious health issues.
“I don’t have the transportation right now to move her, and that’s why I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
The couple is stuck in a home that’s looked—and smelled—more like a sewage plant as of late.
“This is what we call home, and this isn’t the first time this has happened,” Harris’ wife said.
As we now await further response on the investigation into the complex from the city, residents just hope further action is taken soon.
In an effort to extend a helping hand, the St. Louis Housing Authority is working on ways to further help residents and landlords.
Joyner said the Housing Authority recently launched a landlord pilot program, which would allow for additional funding under certain circumstances where excess damage is caused or present on properties.
Demand for assistance has been high since the economic downturn in the region, Joyner said. At present, their housing program has a waitlist.
What makes this specific Section 8 housing program tricky is the fact that it operates under a housing voucher program that overlaps between districts. This means some residents could be placed either at Riverbend or entirely outside the city’s jurisdiction.