CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter promised to help the residents of Westlake Apartments. Those tenants have spent eight days in what many call deplorable conditions, left to fend for themselves after Hurricane Matthew.
Rep. Carter said they finally did get ahold of the owners of the New Jersey-based corporation.
While Westlake residents feel that the owner does not care for them, the congressman assures them that he and other elected officials do.
Trash still filled dumpsters in the Westlake Apartment parking lot. Children still filled that same parking lot. Mainly because the apartments they call home are barely livable a condition that hasn't changed in over a week.
"We don't have a home. That's the issue," said Olivia Johnson.
"I'm a single parent. I just had a baby a month ago. I can't work anywhere and it's hard for me to get me and my baby's life back together," added Denika Jackson.
Rep. Carter, along with the state representative and state senator, spoke with HUD over the phone. Carter echoed the feelings of many in calling this place unsanitary and uninhabitable.
The issues go beyond just this storm damage. Carter said HUD cited multiple problems with the complex over the years. Still, the apartments got a perfect score on their recent county inspection.
"How that could have happened is beyond anyone. There should have never gotten 100 percent so that is something that's going to be looked at as well," said Rep. Carter.
As for the people living here, Carter had a message for them.
"Making sure that they get this assistance and get it immediately is going to be a top priority for us," said Carter.
They hope to do that by getting vouchers for living, FEMA aid when possible and by making sure this isn't repeated.
"We are going to hold HUD and FEMA to their responsibility in making sure that they react and that they take action to correct this problem and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Carter.
The amount Chatham County gets from FEMA should be announced sometime this week. It helps that dozens out here have been waiting on.
"Being told so many promises and not anything happening, it would mean a lot for someone to actually help us. I tired of crying myself to sleep and I'm pretty sure there are a lot of other tenants who have been doing the same," said Johnson.
That same group of elected officials will have another conference call with HUD Wednesday. The complex owners will also be in on that call. They face potential fines from HUD if the agency has violated any terms that go along with paying the company hundreds of thousands in federal subsidies.
We tallied how much money Aspen Companies, the owner of the property, was receiving from the tenants and the federal government through those Section 8 vouchers, based on the number of units at Westlake. That number is well over a $1 million a year. City and county officials have already demanded the owners stop getting that money until the place is repaired and livable again.