Indianapolis apartment complex ordered to repay $346,000 in taxpayer money after safety violations

Audit: Mold, faulty wiring found

INDIANAPOLIS - A west side apartment complex has been ordered to repay more than $346,000 in taxpayer money after mold and serious safety violations were discovered.

The La Esmeralda Apartments, near 16th Street and Tibbs Avenue, were found to have exposed electrical wiring, inoperable fire alarms, missing fire extinguishers and partially rotted fire hoses, according to an audit.

Resident Tammy Grundy said she is afraid to run her washing machine after housing inspectors warned that questionable wiring and plumbing in her basement could cause electrocution.

"It's just not right. I should not have to live like this," she said. "I want to move if nothing is going to be fixed. I don't want to stay here."

Resident Hector Velez said his basement floods, causing mold. Despite his complaints to the complex's management, he said he's seen no permanent repairs.

"They usually come out beginning of the year and wipe down the mold. It comes right back," he said.

The Indianapolis Housing Agency is now demanding the owner of the complex, which receives tax money to provide safe housing, repay those funds.

IHA Executive Director Bud Myers said other landlords are facing similar actions for violating federal rules.

"Someday, sometime, somewhere, smile, you are going to be on our camera," he said. "We are going to go after you for violating the taxpayers' trust."

The complex was supposed to repay the money by Friday, but the deadline was not met, IHA officials said. The complex will not receive any more tax money until repairs are made.

Management at La Esmeralda did not return calls for comment.

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