Federal funding remains in place at Colony Apartments after HUD assessment

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Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:57 PM EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Federal funding remains in place at the Colony Apartments in north Columbia after the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development threatened to pull it if certain issues were not addressed.

HUD officials inspected the property on December 12, two weeks before a complex-wide evacuation prompted by gas leaks and a lack of heat and water for tenants.

Some tenants were displaced for a month following that evacuation and stayed in hotels paid for by property management, the Monroe Group.

The property failed the December 12 inspection and was given 60 days to address “life-threatening” safety issues.

The Monroe Group appealed HUD’s assessment and got a passing score.

HUD said that based on the appeal, the owner’s response to that January letter is no longer required, and certain repairs do not need to be made.

“I feel like that 60 days that they so graciously gave them, they shouldn’t have even gotten that honestly,” one Colony Apartments resident, who wished to remain anonymous to speak candidly about her experience as a tenant there, said.

On appeal, HUD said the complex received a new passing score of 80c, with the c signifying “life-threatening” safety issues.

“Why add 60 days to 15 years of people acting like they don’t care about us?” the tenant said. “You give them more time, and then you approve it. Like what was the point? From what I’m going through, and a lot of the people that I know that live out here, nothing has changed. I haven’t seen a maintenance man since I’ve been back home.”

Hud said it adjusted its score due to inconsistencies between local code requirements and HUD protocol.

A significant number of points were deducted in its December inspection based on closet door locks within several units.

HUD sent WIS a statement on its decision, which reads: “Certain deductions on the original score resulted from a deadbolt lock that was installed on mechanical closets within numerous units. The locks violated HUD physical inspection protocol but were determined by local authorities to be compliant with local code.

HUD has the discretion to adjust inspection scores where there are inconsistencies between local code requirements and the HUD physical inspection protocol. Consequently, the appeal resulted in an adjusted passing REAC score of 80c. Therefore, the Owner’s response to the Notice of Default (NOD) that was due to HUD on March 11th is no longer required.”

The Colony Apartments tenant said she was confused and frustrated about this.

“I just think that that has nothing to do with the reason we were even evacuated in the first place, that has nothing to do with the reason that they were under review,” she said. “It’s like completely besides the point.”

The emergency January letter did not mention the deadbolt locks, but did outline accessibility issues, mold, and roach infestations.

The tenant said she is still dealing with these problems in her apartment.

“Other than that, like inside my apartment, I don’t really have any complaints, but those are like really, really big complaints to me,” she said. “Other people may look at them like, ‘Oh, you could just get some roach spray or whatever,’ but they’re really, really bad. But it’s like little cracks, it’s like you’ll notice them in the bottom of the wall or the top corner. It’s like little cracks that roaches come through.”

It is unclear if Colony Apartments is still expected to fix issues like this to meet HUD regulations.

HUS tells WIS it inspected seven units on Wednesday, March 8, but the agency did not provide a reason why.

WIS also asked HUD about potential follow-up inspections at the complex, and whether there are any outstanding problems that could put its federal funding at risk, but did not receive a response.

The Monroe Group did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Columbia mayor Daniel Rickenmann, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Monroe Group and its management of the Colony Apartments, was not available to comment on HUD’s decision Wednesday.

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