GREENSBORO, N.C. — It took a tragedy to make a group of refugees feel empowered enough to make their voices heard.
This comes after five kids died following an apartment fire on Summit Avenue Saturday morning.
Their concerns were heard Wednesday night when they met with city officials. They spoke up about the living conditions inside of the apartments.
“[We want] safe and better living conditions,” Jalloh’s Upright Services Executive Director Franca Jollah said.
Jalloh feels this isn’t too much to ask for to help refugees.
She says the meeting was to establish a new line of communication between refugees and city officials.
“There’s a lot of breakdown that has happened over the years,” Jalloh said.
She worked closely with the family who lost everything Saturday morning.
Saidi Shomari says the living conditions are a big let down. He used to call the complex home for a year and knows the frustrations of living there.
“I had a lot a lot of problems here,” Shomari said.
Shomari says the repairs were neglected.
“They’re going to take even one month or two weeks to come,” Shomari said.
City officials say they lost the ability to do rental unit certifications.
“Before 2012, every landlord was required to have a housing code inspection done by the city prior to renting that unit,” City Code Compliance Manager Elizabeth Benton said.
Benton says this was a way to make sure tenants started off with a unit that met the minimum housing code. Now they depend on complaints to know of any problems
However starting next week, they’ll be going door to door inspecting each apartment.
“Hopefully we can get some fruition out of this and get some repairs made,” Benton said.
The apartments are owned by members of the Agapion family. FOX8 reached out to Irene Agapion-Martinez, the property manager for Arco Realty, for comment and left a message. She has not returned our call.
City records show that there have been no code violations at this property since 2015 .
City leaders say they plan on taking a closer look at the apartments.