RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters is meeting with residents Friday in protest of living conditions at the Stonybrook residential community.
Residents of the community say they've had issues with rats, roaches, crumbling walls and a small fire started by a broken water heater.
Masters joined residents in protest of the conditions Wednesday, saying the issues need to be fixed immediately. On Friday, he planned to hold a press conference with residents to map out a plan for improvement, joined by the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
The HUD office in Washington, D.C. plans to send a representative from their office Monday to take a closer look at Stonybrook, saying they agree the conditions are unacceptable. That person will determine whether the damaged units can be repaired, then weigh options with HUD management. HUD then plans to meet with the new owner of the buildings.
Many residents say the conditions are deplorable.
Jessica Mayes, who lives in the apartments, says she lives in filth.
"You can't hang stuff up because the wall is so weak from the roaches eating it up. I've got a rat hole. They've plastered it up but they still eat right back through," Mayes said.
The complex houses 400 people, including Theresa Chappelle, Mayes' neighbor.
"When me and my kids go in there to use the restroom, I don't know what is coming from the tub or the toilet upstairs but it leaks on us," she said.
Mayor Masters says he may consider moving into the apartments as a resident. He says he will not rest until the conditions are improved. He claims a rat jumped out of a tree onto him, and he is afraid a child will be bitten or injured.
He says the deterioration occurred under previous owners.
"We need to fix the 25 years of neglect that the property has had. We've been here a total of 100 days. We've gotten a lot of stuff done in 100 days," Edward Montes of Miami Mar said.
The property manager of Stonybrook says his company, Miami Mar, has spent $200,000 on repairs.
"We are working with the city, with the exception of Mayor Masters. He is organizing these protests and has called all you people down here. He has a different agenda," Montes said.
The press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Riviera Beach Utilities District Building, 600 W. Blue Heron Boulevard.
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