“Decent, safe, and sanitary” – These federal housing requirements are anything but complicated, and yet the residents of two Kansas City apartment buildings are missing out.
Residents report infestations of mice, bed bugs, and cockroaches; leaky faucets, broken smoke detectors, tenacious black mold, and broken-down stoves so old they can’t be fixed.
A Failing Grade
Cross-Lines is a housing scheme built for low-income people who are 62 and older or disabled. The buildings are supported by federal aid, meaning Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is required to conduct regular checks for safety and cleanliness.
Last summer, HUD gave the taller of the two apartment buildings, Cross-Lines II, a failing grade of 56 out of 100. The building next to it scored a 62, a mere two points above the bare minimum.
On more than one occasion, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City has threatened to suspend rental licenses on Cross-Lines’ units.
Another evaluation by the Kansas Housing Resource Corp. last year cited the retirement center’s operations as “below average,” and at least 13 units failed to meet minimum health and safety standards in 2020.
Residents living in the Cross-Lines apartment buildings have filed a class-action lawsuit against Young Management, hoping legal action will incentivize better living conditions.
The complaint, filed in February in U.S. District Court, paints a grim picture of the living situation at Cross-Lines Retirement Center:
“This case is about slum-lording, with Defendants harvesting federal subsidies despite failing to meet basic habitability standards and taking advantage of the residents’ powerlessness.”
The lawsuits ask for monetary damages for the buildings’ elderly and disabled residents and corrective measures by the defendants.
Specifically, the lawsuits ask that the judge order Cross-Lines and Young Management to hire a pest control company, a remediation company for mold, and a company to install fire-escape routes and prevention mechanisms suitable for the elderly and disabled residents who are currently at the mercy of just two elevators in each building.
A call for safe and clean housing
In our practice we’ve seen similar examples of our own clients living in unsafe and unclean properties, sacrifices that are made like the ones made by the people living in Cross-Lines. Our firm believes fights for equal, fair, and clean housing for everyone.
If you or a loved one is living in a building or home that is dangerous or unhealthy, it’s important to realize your options and take action whenever possible.