What took so long for residents to move from unlivable apartments?

By Jeanie Powell - bio | email

MADISON, AL (WAFF) -Still, unanswered questions about Paradise Apartments in Madison.

WAFF 48 News has been covering this story for more than a year now and we promised to keep you out of the dark.

The Huntsville Housing Authority is managing vouchers for 42 people while Housing and Urban Development helps residents transition into better a place to live.

Tenants say they're gracious and thrilled at this gesture.

But a question that hasn't been answered is, why has it taken this long?

Our involvement into conditions at Paradise Apartments in Madison didn't begin until April of 2008.

But some residents tell us they've lived like this for seven years.

Conditions that at times, included no heat, leaks in the ceilings, mold, which some say you'll still find at the apartment complex.

Attorney Robert Shipman filed a $2 million lawsuit on behalf of seven tenants shortly after our first broadcast.

He hired a technical services group to conduct an airborne fungal spore analysis.

An allergist looked over the findings for us and confirmed there was likely a problem of certain molds growing indoors, in excess.

Shipman says, "I have pictures on the staircase, on the bathroom where you opened up where the water heater was, you'd be afraid to breathe around it."

At that time, TAMCO managed the HUD property.

It's HUD's responsibility to oversee owner compliance with contractual obligations.

When we went public with these problems, state and local agencies intervened.

Some issues were addressed and fixed, but residents ultimately say worked stopped.

Last fall, HUD foreclosed on the property and new management took over.

Some partners took out a mortgage on the property for more than a million in 1982.

In 2001, WAFF 48 News uncovered documentation stating the mortgage was released to HUD.

Shipman says, "That is a nice neighborhood, why would anybody buy that property and let it deteoriate like that?"

Last year, HUD thanked us and said we brought the problems to their attention.

Now, because of that poor condition, they're helping residents relocate and residents are happy.

HUD representation gave us this statement on May 20, 2009: "Above all else, HUD considers the top priority to be the welfare and safety of the tenants."

Shipman will continue to pursue legal action against TAMCO and other responsible parties.

What's next for the property?

HUD will try and sell it.

Once relocations are complete, Madison's Planning and Building director tells us if the structure can't be lived in, it will have to be rehabilitated or demolished.

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