Garner Cleveland Record

Federal inspection flunks Forest Hills

A June inspection by the federal department regulating subsidized low-income housing indicates conditions have deteriorated at Forest Hills Apartments in Garner. The assessment undercut claims of progress from the New York investment firm that bought the debt of the financially-distressed complex.

Residents in units that were heavily docked for problems, however, said they have not had problems living in the complex and that management has been responsive to maintenance requests.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had scored the complex a 58b in an inspection on Aug. 20, 2013, months before Stabilis bought the bonds in December. Scores below 60 require a follow-up inspection within a year.

That follow-up inspection on June 6 netted a score of 26c. It noted multiple units with holes in walls, damaged roof components, water damage, peeling or stained and peeling paint, exposed wires, missing and expired fire extinguishers, and improperly stored combustibles, among other violations.

Stabilis said the property, owned by Peter Hubicki, is in foreclosure.

“Once the foreclosure is complete, we look forward to working closely with HUD to bring the property to the appropriate standard,” the company said through a public relations firm.

Scores below 30 are referred to HUD’s Department of Enforcement Center. HUD spokesman Joseph Phillips said the DEC would “submit their findings and recommendations regarding further enforcement actions” and those findings would come in weeks.

The 136-unit building has 28 HUD-regulated Section 8 units and another 68 subsidized by housing choice vouchers. HUD inspected 14 units as well as the overall property.

In April, Stabilis had said in a statement: “For the past four months, Stabilis has paid for and monitored the work performed by the property manager Landura Management Associates to clear all of the violations filed by (HUD)...To date, the work related to a majority of violations has been completed and a HUD inspection is being scheduled for them to independently verify all of the work that has been done.”

Despite the score, multiple residents said they had no complaints with management nor the condition of their apartments.

“Whoever bought it out, now you can see they’re trying to improve it,” said Tatiana Cradle, a resident in a unit with several deficiencies documented.

Stabilis buys underutilized and financially distressed commercial property; it did not disclose the terms of the bond purchase. Hubkicki, a chemist in Charolotte who specializes in lead paint removal, paid $6 million for the property in 1998. It is currently assessed at $4.4 million.