City, county officials search for solutions for Westlake Apartments

Metro police investigating attempted armed robbery on Lanwick Court
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - We're continuing our coverage of the plight of hundreds of tenants who call the Westlake Apartments home in Savannah.

Hurricane Matthew and its lingering effects have left behind what most would consider unlivable conditions, but many have returned to those apartments to stay.

Residents, along with City of Savannah and Chatham County officials are looking for a quick and thorough clean-up solution.

I walked through one Westlake residence Thursday night, home to a family with children. The water has receded, but it's clear the cleanup process is more than tenants can handle on their own.

"They need one person to look at them and say, I give a d***," said Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach.

Thursday, Savannah City Council members discussed the ongoing problems Westlake Apartment residents are facing.

"Those people out there have been left to fend for themselves. And they're at the point, and this is where the rub is, they're at a point where they can't say a lot. Because that's their last resort," said Mayor DeLoach.

Monday, the property manager handed out a flier asking tenants to have patience, suggesting storm victims spray bleach around their apartments to help with mold and mildew.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Property Manager Patricia Ogden wrote, "I have to admit that the issue going on here at Westlake is very overwhelming for me as it is for you." She goes on to say, "Please don't take it personal (sic) if I have gotten short with you, this is very frustrating for me."

Ogden says she's working hard to get contractors and vendors to the apartments to complete the work that needs to be done. The district's county commissioner says the property owners' responsibilities go far beyond the cleanup effort.

"I don't believe the county or city government is the answer to it. I believe the owners of this property should be made or forced to renovate these apartments or get out of the business," said District 5 County Commissioner Yusuf Shabazz.

Commissioner Shabazz says since Westlake is a federally subsidized, Section-8 property, he's looking to our U.S. Senate and House Representatives for help.

In the meantime, residents tell me they're searching desperately for an affordable hotel room, or just staying put and hoping for help while The Aspen Companies, owners of the complex, continue to collect an estimated $100,000 in rent each month from the tenants and the federal government.

We attempted once again to get in touch with The Aspen Companies and leave a message, unsuccessfully. We'll try again Friday.

Commissioner Shabazz says a campaign has started to inundate the owner's office with phone calls, demanding action and answers.

One quick note, the director for communities in schools says while a lot of donations have come in to help the children of Westlake, they're in need of monetary donations now.

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