Families living in blighted apartment complex make first steps towards new homes

9News Alert Team: Elm Grove relocation

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The 9News Alert Team is getting results for families who say they were living a nightmare at an infamous apartment complex. After our investigations, those families took their first steps towards a new home.

“It’s time for a change, you know, God heard our prayer,” said Felicia Harris, who has been living in the Elmgrove Gardens Apartments for six years. Tuesday, she and her neighbors met with a relocation specialist from LeumasResidential. The goal of the meeting was to give tenants an overview of what they can expect over the next couple of months. It was the first to step to move out of what Harris says has been a nightmare.

“Everything tore up from ceilings falling in, people sleeping in water, people getting sick. It’s just time for a change and I’m just so happy that we’re finally getting a change and we’re about to move to something better. God is good,” said Harris.

(WAFB)

Several 9News reports over the years and direct complaints from residents got the attention of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). On August 31, they pulled their contract from the apartment. HUD’s field office director, Earl Randal, says it’s important for this process to remain transparent for those involved. “We wanted to make sure that the tenants knew that they were an active partner in this process and it takes all of us to drive this process forward.”

A previous manager for the apartment complex says she left because the owner refused to address some of the issues there. She now manages a different complex and hopes she can help.

“I couldn’t bear to look at these people apartments that way it was, so yes, I left. It makes me feel wonderful that these people are going to finally get help and live in the conditions that they supposed to live in,” said Swantarha Smith.

Harris says this new start will give her the extra boost she and her family need to create a brighter future.

“I thank God now that I’m fixing to move to better, you know, it’s a wake up call moving to better, you know, time for me to get on my feet and do what I’m supposed to do.”

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