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Judge orders Cross Creek Apartment complex to make repairs

Friday, April 28, 2017 by Syeda Hasan

For years, residents of the Cross Creek Apartments in North Austin have been complaining about poor living conditions. They say they continue to pay rent while living with broken windows, poor security and a lack of hot water, among other issues.

Jorge Menchaca, who has lived at the affordable housing complex for about six years, is a member of the tenant association. He said living conditions began to worsen about a year after he moved in.

“We decided to form the tenant council because they haven’t repaired anything,” he said. “They haven’t done anything, and we’re tired of that.”

Cross Creek was built in part with $2 million in funding from the city. In 2015, the city of Austin sued to get the repairs done. Court records show the complex has been cited for numerous code violations. The case returned to court this week after tenants complained that the work was still not done.

Before Wednesday’s hearing, Menchaca felt hopeful.

“We have a lot of pictures, a lot of things to tell the judge,” he said. “(We) hope the judge can hear us because we have a lot of complaints.”

The judge ultimately ordered Cross Creek Apartments to make the repairs.

Attorneys representing Cross Creek said the complaints filed in 2015 don’t reflect current conditions. They said the complex has completed thousands of dollars in repairs just this week, and that the hot water issue has been fixed.

Attorney Robert Doggett of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, the group representing the tenants, disputed that claim.

“The hot water obviously isn’t resolved,” he said. “The city has chosen not to push that issue, if you will, because it’s been difficult in the past to prove. The hot water is not fixed, and it’s still a problem, and we are asking for relief in part because of that issue.”

Doggett said if property managers don’t make these repairs, he may seek a more dramatic legal remedy called “receivership.” If approved by the court, the motion would allow a third party to take over the complex, collect rent payments and use the money to make repairs.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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