Ceiling falls in with newborn girl and autistic two-year-old boy present

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 3:34 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - More tenants at the Samara East Apartment complex in Columbia are calling their units unsafe after reports of neglected work orders.

The latest call for help comes seven months after WIS originally reported on similar living complaints in August of 2022.

“My point of view, you know, I got to make sure my kids come first before anything else,” said Jacob Powers, the latest tenant to speak out.

Powers told WIS the living conditions in his unit could send his two-year-old boy and two-week-old girl to the hospital. He said his wife and children are currently with their grandmother in Summerville.

Since moving into their unit on March 20, the family has reported no hot water, inoperable air conditioning (A/C), three busted water lines, and a severe roach problem.

“As soon as one problem is done, another one comes up. And it’s just a constant, snowball effect. You know, it just keeps going downhill,” continued Powers.

The family said a bedroom floor tile, broken before their move-in, recently slit their autistic child’s foot.

As of Thursday, a pipe in the living room remains exposed after water busted through the ceiling with both children present. Similar damage is located in the master bedroom closet.

Nearby tenants, who chose to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation, said living conditions have only gotten worse since WIS last reported on the complex seven months ago.

“The living conditions for most people in Samara East were horrible,” said a former groundskeeper who opted to remain anonymous due to an ongoing legal case.

The groundskeeper, who acted as an ad hoc maintenance man for a year, said Samara East had over 300 work orders when he initially transferred.

He referred us to a series of A/C units across the complex with open cabinets and exposed wiring. Two former employees said these units are over 30 years old.

The groundskeeper deferred us to several residents who knew him by name. These residents sent pictures of what appeared to be mold and leaks in their apartments.

The former employee was fired over email after sustaining an injury at Samara East four days prior.

“I can just imagine the amount of refrigerators that have roaches, the stoves that don’t work, the ovens don’t work, heat don’t work, water don’t work, no hot water, it’s ridiculous,” said the man.

WIS called and emailed Samara East on Thursday but did receive a response.

The parent company, Dasmen Residential, issued this statement to WIS:

“We have made significant progress in the maintenance and upkeep of the property. Our management team has been working diligently to address all tenant concerns and ensure that our community remains a comfortable and enjoyable place to live.

It is true that a few members were let go due to not meeting our performance expectations. We strive to maintain a high standard of service and professionalism, and it is crucial that our team members are committed to upholding these values.

Furthermore, DASMEN Residential is proud to have received several national recognitions for being one of the best places to work in the multifamily industry. We are committed to creating a positive work environment for our employees and fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and growth.”

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