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Councilwoman: Taxpayer-funded apartment full of false promises

8 years 10 months 1 week ago Thursday, September 03 2015 Sep 3, 2015 September 03, 2015 5:34 PM September 03, 2015 in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Questions are being raised tonight over false promises tied to an apartment complex paid for with tax money.

At least $12 million was used to revitalize a section of Midcity with a brand new apartment complex, the Midcity Gardens Apartments, which turned a dilapidated section of town into a little oasis.

Two years after cutting the ribbon, signs of neglect plague the area. Now there are questions about promises made to the community which were not delivered.

Ashley Soelv is active in her community, and the push to make it better. When she got the opportunity to live in an urban neighborhood, she jumped at the chance.

"As a young black professional, it is very important for me to come back to my community, live here and do the same,"Soelv said. "When I see my community mistreated I have to say something."

That mistreatment is why she's speaking up today. Soelv is talkign about promises that were made during a ribbon cutting ceremony two years ago. At that time, 12 million dollars in federal money helped construct the complex. It was supposed to be complete with a fitness center, dance studio, and outdoor park. Tonight our cameras captured copy machines, cubicles, and chairs where fitness equipment should be. Nothing was happening in the dance studio.

"I thought I was coming home to live in an urban neighborhood and volunteer when I walk otu of my house, but instead that's not available to me," Soelv said.

In addition to the false promises when it comes to amenities, residents feel like they are living in a raggedy wasteland. Weeds tower over six feet and surround the complex. The brand new building is also surrounded by trash.

Councilwoman Tara Wicker is outraged.

"The community and everyone who bought into this project is owed an explanation," Wicker said.

We went looking for answers inside the front office. We were directed to the Louisiana Housing Corporation. Wicker says she has not been able to get a straight answer from them.

"Who's in charge, who do we ask the right questions to, and who's going to hold true to the promies that they made to this community," Wicker asked.

As for residents like Soelv, she believes people at the highest levels of government responsible for using your tax money should be held accountable for the mess.

"Everyone won't keep quiet,"Soelv said. "Some of us actually do care about our community, and some of us are willing to stand up and say something. It's not fair to tax payers, it's not fair to these tenants, and it's not fair to the mid city community."

The Louisiana Housing Corporation did not get back to us on a response for this story.

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