Residents ask for answers after city says apartments are ‘unsafe’

JACKSON, Tenn. — Residents at a Jackson apartment complex search for answers after the city notifies them their units are “unsafe.”

unsafe structureOn Tuesday, staff with the city’s Building and Housing Codes Department posted signs with bright red letters reading “DO NOT OCCUPY” and “unsafe structure” on about 10 units at the Hollywood Heights Apartments.

Director Tom Winbush said he and some others had noticed the building’s visible damages. Winbush said he and other inspectors noticed issues with plumbing, electrical, interior and exterior damage and the most severe — deteriorated staircases.

“A lot of the apartments are just in very bad conditions,” he said.

Renters such as Sherita Phelps say the notices were a little shocking. “Don’t nobody deserve to be homeless,” she said.

Winbush said he posted the signs because the stairwells and landings are a major safety concern for residents. Despite the alarming words on the notice, Winbush said it’s more like a warning and not requiring tenants to move.

“I’m telling you there is a safety hazard here,” he said. “I’m warning you of this hazard, and it’s probably to your benefit that you might want to find another apartment.”

Residents said they’re confused since the complex recently changed ownership to Madison Realty.

Multiple tenants said the owner spoke to them about repairs the building needed. Residents said they were told they would be relocated to other units while apartments were repaired.

Phelps said that’s no longer the case. She said a property owner, whom she calls “Mr. Bruce,” told her everyone needed to move out by the weekend.

For two days, WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News made multiple attempts to reach staff at Madison Realty for comment. They have yet to speak with us about what’s next for the complex.

The city said engineers are assessing the current structural issues and hope to have a more definite plan of action soon.

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