Dingell seeks answers from feds on eviction notices at Washtenaw County apartments

The Detroit News

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell announced Monday she is seeking answers from federal officials on why eviction notices were sent to tenants of a federally subsidized Washtenaw County apartment complex.

In a letter to Ben Carson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, the Dearborn Democrat said the notices were sent to residents at Sycamore Meadows Apartments in Superior Township after a June 4 block party as a result of "community disturbances."

Tenants who were not involved have been required to write a statement proving they did not attend, Dingell said in the letter.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell

“We are highly concerned about the blanket service of evictions as a result of this event, particularly under the context of a pandemic, and would like clarity over the property management’s decision to evict these tenants, as well as a deeper understanding of the oversight procedures U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides to the property,” Dingell said. “This event has also highlighted several issues that continue to exist on this property.” 

Dingell said the 262-unit complex received a “below average” rating in a 2018 management occupancy review from HUD, which also gave the property a failing score after a Real Estate Assessment Center inspection later that year that prompted managers to take action on issues such as lack of repairs, improper ventilation and air conditioning.

Repairs were not corrected until November, according to Dingell’s letter. 

“Despite addressing the issues highlighted in these reviews, many tenants have continued to raise concerns over a lack of maintenance to units, particularly a lack of proper ventilation and air conditioning, causing tenants to seek relief from the high temperatures outside,” the document read. “…These properties must continue to ensure that the needs of their tenants are adequately addressed in an efficient manner, and processes to address issues are resolved through a fair and transparent process. It is HUD’s responsibility to ensure that these properties meet these standards.”

HUD officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. Neither did managers at Sycamore Meadows or Radney Management & Investments Inc., the Texas-based firm that lists the complex as among the properties it oversees.

Last week, members of the Sycamore Meadows Tenant Association posted a message on its Facebook page referring residents to a legal services group if they received an eviction notice.

The association did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.