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Tenants sue apartment complex over safety issues

 

ngreen@MiamiHerald.com

Some Miami Gardens parents won’t allow their children to go out and play during daylight hours at the Carol City Gardens Apartments.

At night, it’s completely out of the question.

“It’s not safe. Everyday it’s something — gunshots, shootings and fights,” said resident Shantheria Grant, 25. “It’s too much.”

Her longtime boyfriend Antwon Griffin, 31, recounted how he dislocated his shoulder running away from the “pop, pop, pop” of gunfire on Father’s Day, June 16.

“We were all running, trying to squeeze into one apartment,” he said. “It hurt so bad, I thought I got shot.”

Another resident, Jacqueline Huntley-Poux, 39, did get shot that day. She didn’t survive.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, attorney Richard Ryles, who represents Huntley-Poux’s family and others who have been killed or injured at the apartments, called on the property’s owner to make the complex safer for residents.

Automated gates don’t work, a guardhouse is never manned, and security patrols often are scared away by the crime, residents say.

According to Florida records, Carol City Gardens, 4601 NW 183rd St., is owned by GFI Management Services, a New York-based property management firm. The low-income 152-unit complex is mostly subsidized by the federal Section 8 program.

Calls to GFI’s corporate offices were not returned.

A woman who identified herself on the phone as the apartments property manager but declined to give her name, said security guards patrol the grounds seven days a week and surveillance cameras operate at all times.

“There are worse properties than Carol City Gardens in Miami,” she added.

Ryles has filed multiple suits in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of his clients against GFI, claiming the company has a history of negligence when it comes to residents’ safety. His first suit against the company was filed in 2008.

Citing a 2009 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development management review report, Ryles said Carol City Gardens scored below average for security.

GFI “has not instituted effective security measures to address the criminal activity occurring on the property,” according to the HUD report, provided to the Miami Herald by Ryles.

As a result, “the tenants are living in an environment that endangers their safety and well being,” the report continues.

GFI was instructed by HUD, the federal agency that oversees the Section 8 rent-subsidy program, to implement security measures that would “address the criminal activity occurring on-site and to deter future occurrences.”

That has not happened, said Ryles.

“Over the years, talking to residents, they want a better place, they just don’t have the resources,” said Ryles. Because many tenants have restricted incomes, they cannot afford to move out, he said.

Luchina Pointdexter, 33, lived at the apartment complex for six years with her son’s father, Anasico Roberts.

Roberts, 19, was gunned down while talking to friends in 2007.

Shortly after, she found another place to live, she said.

“I had to go,” said Pointdexter. “But for the people still there, they’re scared for their lives.”

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