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‘Affordable housing crisis’ in Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Catherine Brown sits on her stoop. She prefers to be outside, she says, because of the conditions inside her apartment.

"Roaches, mold, bed bugs," she said. "I didn't sleep all night. Bed bugs eating me right and left."

Brown lives at the Executive Center apartments on Summit Avenue in Greensboro. She said she pays $480 in rent, but sometimes she thinks she'd be better off sleeping on the streets.

"At least no bed bugs would get me there," she said.

Her sentiment is echoed by other tenants, who said they contacted the Greensboro Housing Coalition for help. GHC Executive Director Brett Byerly said the GHC filed a petition to the City of Greensboro in mid-August for the city to inspect the apartments. Those inspections are now underway.

Code Compliance Division Manager Elizabeth Benton said, so far, the city has found more than a dozen violations including bed bugs, roaches, damaged light fixtures, broken locks, loose flooring and unclean and unsanitary conditions.

Benton said once inspections are complete, which should be Friday, the city will facilitate a hearing with the property owner. He/she will then have 30 days to make the necessary repairs. Benton added that as long as repairs are underway, three extensions of 30 days could be granted.

Michelle Kennedy, executive director for the Interactive Resource Center, said issues like those at Executive Center are an example of what she calls an "affordable housing crisis" in Greensboro. She said there is not enough financial incentive for developers and landlords to construct and maintain high quality affordable housing.

"The truth is, there's not a lot of economic drive to do that," she said. "They're not going to make a lot of money off of those properties. So it often becomes the thing that's least invested in. Until the rest of our community says, 'We can do better,' then I really don't believe it's going to change."

Guilford County tax documents show Paul Watkins, of New York City, as the owner of the Summit Avenue property. Tax records show he owes about $9,000 in taxes on the Summit Avenue apartments and about $7,500 for a property on Yanceyville Street.

Calls to Executive Center's management were not returned.

To request an inspection on an apartment complex from the City of Greensboro, call (336) 373-2111.

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