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Tenants fed up with conditions at Riviera Beach apartment complex

Management says major change is on the way
Posted: 11:55 PM, Jul 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-06 07:32:46Z

The families who live at the Stonybrook apartment complex in Riviera Beach have had enough.

For years, WPTV has covered deplorable conditions reported by families who live at the apartments.

In September, Hurricane Irma sent flood waters and fire through the complex and forced 70 families to evacuate one of the buildings. Residents say that building was condemned but people are still living in it.

Flash forward nine months later and families said conditions have not gotten any better.

"It's unsanitary, it's full of mold and mildew and it's unlivable," said resident Erica Frazier.

However, help could be on the way for the tenants living in the 216 units.

Millenia Housing Management , which currently manages the property as it continues to work on gaining ownership, sent WPTV the following statement explaining their plans for Stonybrook:

We understand the frustration the residents of Stonybrook Apartments are experiencing.  We, too, are eager to begin making the changes that will result in a complete transformation of this property – including rehabilitating all 216 units, completely transforming all building exteriors, expanding green space and building a new 3,100 square foot community center. 

On April 26, we presented a comprehensive proposal to the City of Riviera Beach Planning and Zoning Board describing the $11.5 million investment we are prepared to make in this property.  We are ready to move forward with this project as soon as we have the city’s approval of the requests we have made and look forward to providing the residents of Stonybrook with the quality homes they deserve.

Still, in recent months tenants have become so fed up they formed their own Stonybrook Residential Council. Crystal Lewis is the co-chair of the group.

"I cannot do this anymore. I’m tired of sending my kids to the hospital they have not been on breathing machines until they’ve been out here," Lewis said through tears. 

On Thursday, the council organized a Call-In Day For Justice at Stonybrook, asking all tenants to flood the management company's phone lines with complaints.

"I was like you guys we got to come together," said Lewis.

Tenants invited us into their homes to show us the conditions. Unit after unit, we saw mold, water damage, roach infestations within the walls and leaks. Many appliances break and are replaced with other used appliances, like ovens with food caked inside or refrigerators with food and roaches.

"The apartments are totally unbearable," said Frazier.

One unit had a thick, black-colored mold growing on the inside of the air conditioning unit closet. A strong smell of permeated throughout the home. Next to the air conditioning closet, there is a light switch with water trickling down out of the electrical socket.

This woman just discovered water trickling out of her light switch.

“It’s ridiculous," said Porsche Pitts, a mother of four. “This is what I gotta go through.”

Her unit contains mold and water leaks.

“My daughter, she coughs every night," said Pitts.

In her kids' room, there's a wall plug with exposed wires and holes in the wall -- some so deep -- the building’s cinder block is exposed.

“The kids, I don’t let them sleep in here because there’s rats coming out the walls," she said.

Adam Wasserman with Palm Beach County Tenants Union has been helping Stonybrook families with resources and legal support. The union works with properties across the entire county. 

“This place is by far the worst, it’s not even close," he said of the properties he works with.

The property is owned by Tennessee-based Global Ministries but recently managed in the last two years by Ohio-based Millenia Housing Management.

“The property has been in limbo ever since," said Wasserman.

And city code enforcement has taken action. WPTV is waiting on a request of code enforcement reports on Stonybrook by the city of Riviera Beach.

“They can continue slapping fines and fines and fines forever. If the city doesn’t enforce those fines," said Wasserman.

The property managers are hoping to break ground ASAP but cannot move forward with any construction until full approval by the Riviera Beach city leaders. Millenia representatives will be back in Riviera Beach in the next month to continue forward with the proposal.

Until then, Lewis says they will continue to fight for a better living.

"I’m not going to sit down, I’m not going to be quiet, I’m going to get my voice heard because we shouldn’t be treated like this," said Lewis.