A grassroots group says it supports the city’s decision to shut down the Alexander Apartments on Col. Glenn for code problems, but pleaded for some breathing room for residents who’ve been left with little money or time Christmas week to make other living arrangements.
The letter, from Arkansas Community Organizations to City Manager Bruce Moore:
Conditions at the Alexander Apartments have been very bad for a long time. The owner, Jason Bolden, should have been held accountable for the problems at the property several months ago. We support the City of Little Rock’s decision to shut them down. However, this decision has created a crisis situation for the low-income residents who live at the apartments. We believe that it is also city government’s responsibility to shut down these apartments in an orderly and compassionate way.
Many of the residents are on a fixed income and are disabled. Their income is small and comes next month. So it is unreasonable to ask them to leave by December 28 when they will not get any money until the following month.
Government offices and social services are closing because of the holidays or are short staffed because many people have taken off. This is the worst timing imaginable.
The process of finding a new place is not instantaneous. It takes time to find an apartment and can even involve a waiting period. Moving can also be expensive.
We are asking that you give residents more time to relocate and assistance in moving. Please let us know what you plan to do in helping the residents.
Gloria Smith Rowena Hampton Laura Young
Arkansas Community Organizations
Bolden told KATV that he intended to challenge the shutdown in court and that he’d been making, or had plans to make, repairs at the project.
UPDATE: The city of Little Rock said late Tuesday that it couldn’t extend the closing time of the apartments because of safety considerations and said it was working to find alternative housing. The statement:
The City of Little Rock is moving forward with the closure of Alexander Apartments because of the life-threatening risks posed by keeping the complex open. Relocation assistance is being provided to tenants.
Recent inspections by fire marshals and code officers found multiple violations at the 6310 Colonel Glenn Road complex, including electrical, plumbing, structural, and mechanical issues that will need to be addressed by the owner.
“The situation is critical and affects every building at this apartment complex,” City Manager Bruce T. Moore said. “In good conscience, we can’t leave these tenants in a place where such hazards put their lives in immediate danger.”
The complex has 141 total units, with some of those being unoccupied. Violations were found in both occupied and unoccupied units, but Fire Chief Gregory Summers stressed that an issue in one unit, even an unoccupied one, could ultimately affect all units in that building.
City staff explored other options, including a possible extension of the closure date, before deciding to proceed with the original decision to close the complex by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28.
Resource specialists with the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs will continue to work diligently to assist tenants with transitional housing options. The department has compiled a list of several landlords at apartment complexes with available units who will be taking applications this week, including at least one who is accepting applications through noon Thursday.
By Tuesday afternoon, resource specialists had been in touch with tenants in 60 of the occupied units.