Two years ago, residents of an apartment complex called Primrose of Shadow Creek, advertised as a 55 and older community, raised the alarm about conditions at the property. The Chronicle reported how, in August of 2016, residents of Building 2 – some of whom have medical conditions preventing them from using stairs – were temporarily trapped due to an out-of-service elevator. But that was just one of myriad complaints about conditions on the property, including broken air conditioning units, mold, and inconsistent trash collection.
Residents charged that the then-managers, Pinnacle Equities, weren't properly maintaining the property, which sits on land owned by the Austin Housing Finance Corporation. The city's Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office said it was looking into the matter, but that rents were too low for the management to keep things in much better condition. Staff also pointed out that tenants had begun to organize.
Fast forward two years, to a meeting of the Concerned Citizens of Primrose Tenants Association in the complex's information center and clubhouse. The property is now under control of Good Harbor Management LLC, and a group called BASTA has been helping tenants organize these planning meetings to secure better conditions. Charmaine Boston, a resident on her second lease with Primrose, is pushing her fellow tenants to keep putting pressure on Good Harbor. "This is where we have to live," she told the group. "And this is where some of us may die. But until then we've got to live here."
She wrote the Chronicle in June in the hopes of renewing community concern about the place, describing many of the issues raised by tenants in 2016. "To go into detail would be like writing a novel," she wrote. A/C units go too long without repair, she said, and black mold still grows on vents throughout her building. She said she and her fellow residents live in fear because the security gate around the complex is often broken down or circumvented by nonresidents. "Everybody in town" knows the code for the gate when it is in working order, she said.
The repair issues dominated discussion at the meeting. Residents would like to see their repair orders filled more quickly, and increased security to address property crime issues associated with the flimsy gate. And while the units have working air conditioning, many of the complex's common areas – including the clubhouse where the meeting was held – are conspicuously without. At 26, and in relative good health, I felt weighted down by the heat during the hour-plus meeting. The elderly residents working to improve their community may as well have been sitting out in the evening heat. Boston told me she often has to apologize to her guests for the conditions outside of her own apartment, because she has no control over the maintenance in those parts of Primrose.
Boston and the group's planning committee handed out repair order forms at the meeting and encouraged residents to document the problems in their units and turn them in to management. The group hopes that consistent pressure on management will result in the changes it seeks. The Chronicle checked in with Austin Code about the issues, and learned that the office had received 31 complaints between September and April of this year. Those included leaking A/C units, pest problems including bedbugs, and issues with lighting in common areas. Code noted that most of those complaints are now resolved, and its officers will return July 11 for a follow-up inspection. Meanwhile, residents are banding together to keep the spotlight on conditions.
Good Harbor has yet to respond to a request for comment.
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