The Investigators: Nightmare at Elm Grove Part I - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

The Investigators: Nightmare at Elm Grove Part I

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 9News Investigators have exposed a nasty problem at an apartment complex in Baton Rouge. Money generated from tax revenue helps to pay the rent at Elm Grove Garden. 

The federal government has launched an investigation into the unsafe and unsanitary conditions plaguing Elm Grove. 

A typical day at Elm Grove Garden, which is located near the Baton Rouge Metro Airport, includes parents sitting on their porches watching their children play ball and ride bikes. They are playing outside in the sweltering summer sun, because they cannot bear the heat indoors.

Tenant, Charisma Williams, relies on a small fan to keep her and her three small children cool. 

“My children have to suffer every night and most of the time during the day too,” Williams said.

Williams said her air conditioning unit has not worked in three months. She said the heat has made her infant daughter sick.

“There's been multiple occasions where I had to call an ambulance to come get her,” Williams said.

Her apartment is also crawling with critters. They are on the furniture, inside the closets, and on the floor.

The infestation has gotten bad enough that Williams' children have become uncomfortably acquainted with them.

“There he goes. That's a mean one right there, mom. Look, that one's mean,” Williams’ son said as he pointed to a swarm of roaches on the sofa.

Life is tough too for Candis Robinson. She also lives in Elm Grove Garden. Her problems stem from rotted pipes under her kitchen sink. 

“Every time I run water or clean chicken, any time I run water, it leaks,” Robinson said.

Washing dishes has become a nightmare. She uses a bucket as a catch basin, but even it cannot hold the dirty water that surges below. It overflows into her cabinets and pours onto the floor flooding her kitchen. Cleaning up the mess is a two person job. It includes switching out pails and dumping the dirty water into the bathtub.

Robinson said she complained to the property manager at least three times. 

Downstairs, Latasha White is fighting to keep her ceilings and walls from crumbling under the pressure of an upstairs tenant's leaky air conditioning unit. She said her apartment has already flooded once. 

“It came this high off the ground, and the office let it soak until the door was falling apart,” White said.

She said apartment maintenance eventually patched and painted the soaked sheet rock. But that, White said, is merely a cover-up to many of problems in her apartment. Everything from the handles on her bath tub right down to the kitchen cabinets is falling apart. 

“We don't use this light. I don't check the smoke detector batteries because it's wires on wires,” White said.

When 9News Investigators looked around the complex we spotted other potential safety hazards. The balconies were not bolted down. Wire clothes hangers supported the protective screen barrier to the rails. Exposed wire dangled from electrical fixtures. Security cameras around the property were cracked, as are many of the apartment windows. Residents said not only are they disgusted, they do not feel safe here. 

The owners of Elm Grove Garden, a company called "La Real Property Holdings", has a Housing Assistance Payment Contract with Housing and Urban Development. According to HUD, tenants who live at the complex pay 30 percent of their adjusted income. HUD pays 70 percent to the landlord. 

The people who live there said they cannot afford to live anywhere else.

“My funds are not strong enough for me to get up out of here and move,” Alisha Jones said.

Jones said she has complained about the heat and roaches so many times, the property manager no longer takes her seriously.

“I go and try to talk to him about, okay what you going to do about this? Well? That's all I get from the manager. He is always being sarcastic. I don't think it's funny,” Jones said.

They claim part of the problem is that the property manager, Joe Dominguez, is rarely in his office. 

9News Investigators found him cutting the grass on the property.

Dominguez insisted the tenant's apartments were safe and sanitary. 

Tonight on 9News at 10, see his reaction when 9News Investigators pointed out the problems. 

Also, see what the property owners and HUD said after 9News Investigators uncovered the “Nightmare at Elm Grove.”

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