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KC Tenants Accuses HUD Of Scaling Back Investigation Into Millennia Companies

KC Tenants protestors showed up in May for Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge's visit to Kansas City.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
KC Tenants protestors showed up in May for Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge's visit to Kansas City.

Local housing advocacy groups are asking the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to cut ties with a corporation they accuse of neglecting tenants.

KC Tenants says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is backpedaling on its commitment to an investigation into Millennia Companies.

Last month, HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge agreed to launch a full investigation into the Ohio-based corporation after pressure from the housing advocacy group KC Tenants.

Millenia Companies owns numerous properties in Kansas City, including Gabriel Tower Apartments which has faced a number of complaints over neglect.

Members of the Gabriel Towers Union said that they are disappointed with Tuesday’s follow-up meeting with HUD officials on the investigation into the corporation and its CEO, Frank Sinito.

“I left out of there feeling like they were in bed together, like they were in the bed with Frank Sinito and Millennia,” James “Pappy” Stone, president of the Gabriel Tower Tenant Union, said. “I feel like they're working as a team.”

In their demands to Fudge, tenants asked for data from HUD detailing how much federal money Millennia receives annually, as well as information about the company's practices across the country.

They also said HUD team members escalated the meeting by refusing to answer questions about Millennia and interrupting tenants.

The group said they were told by Bruce Ladd, Deputy Regional Administrator of HUD, that the probe would only focus on the conditions at Gabriel Towers.

Stone said the investigation should not be limited to just one apartment complex.

“They want to talk about only what's going on here at Gabriel Towers when Millennia has a bigger problem. They have these issues all over all of their properties,” Stone said.

An investigation by the Houston Chronicle called “Living Hell” found similar problems with Millennia-owned properties in Missouri, Texas and Florida.

The housing group said on Wednesday that “tenants are still living in squalor, with mold, bed bugs, broken doors, and retaliatory management.”

Tenants said they were told by the HUD team that they would be able to perform a unit by unit inspection into conditions at Gabriel Towers within the next two weeks.

But members of the tenants' union said the inspection is not enough, and are demanding the department cease business with Millennia Companies within the year and set up a process to hold HUD-funded landlords accountable.

“They only want to narrow it down to here and I’m like, 'Why? Why do y'all still want to do business with these people after you see what they’re doing to us poor people in these conditions,'” Stone said.

HUD did not confirm to KCUR if the department will scale back its investigation into Millennia.

A HUD spokesperson said that the department’s staff had recently met with Millennia and notified them that their progress on some of their preservation transactions had not met expectations, indicating that enforcement actions would be taken if necessary.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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