Houston, Texas (KTRK) – Residents of the South Acres apartment complex now have air conditioning in their apartments after nearly a month out in the heat.
Sandra Collins reached out to Action 13 last week saying that she and her villa neighbors at the Sandrock Apartments on the 12000 block of Martin Luther King Drive were struggling with the lack of air conditioning.
Six fans installed in the two bedroom unit, hoping to get some relief from the heat. She said she couldn’t cook in her apartment during that time because it was too hot, and she had to find somewhere else to go in the afternoon when the sun was shining through her windows.
“You wouldn’t want your mother or any other part of your family to suffer like this,” Collins said. “So you don’t want to do it yourself, you know? That’s all I ask. That’s all I ask is that you be treated decently.”
After Collins raised the alarm, Measure 13 contacted Councilwoman Caroline Evans Shabazz, who represents District Dr.
The councilwoman said she considered this an emergency and called Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Since then, the Houston Department of Health, Houston Public Works, and the Houston Housing Authority have been in the complex.
“These are people, and you can’t just charge them rent and not just provide the basics, and air conditioning for me is key,” Shabazz said.
Public Works posted a violation notification on the office door on Tuesday, with a list of three violations, including repairing the air conditioning system, and giving them 24 hours to fix it.
On Wednesday, a cooler arrived at the complex and crews installed it.
“I was so happy,” Shabazz said. “When I got the information, I was elated.”
“That would be a blessing,” Collins said of having a working air conditioner in her apartment. “It really will. It really will be, because I can get some peaceful sleep. I have enough energy to get up and go do what I need to do.”
The ABC13 crew went to the Katy corporate office of the complex’s property management company, Allied Orion Group, on Wednesday after being unable to contact them for several days.
Marisa Castellano, a complex representative, said the air conditioning system’s refrigerant had been out for about two weeks. She said they planned to have a temporary cooling system installed on the property Wednesday or Thursday, and the violation from the city and the ABC13 story the previous week played no role.
She said they brought in a temporary fix because it would take about eight months to replace the radiator.
Residents said that they were not informed by the complex that the air-conditioning system was broken or given any timetable for when it would be fixed.
“If you don’t tell me what you know, I won’t know anything,” Collins told reporter Micah Hatfield.
Castellano said they did not inform residents because they did not want to give them “false hope” about when it would be up and running again.
The office on site is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A note was posted on the door Wednesday afternoon, telling residents that they had obtained a permit from the city to install the cooler.
Since Allied Orion Group took over management of the property in August 2022, Castellano said the air conditioner has been running at 50% capacity.
She said they offered residents to buy window ACs for the window unit because it was all out, and the cost would be deducted from the rent.
Neither Collins nor Chante Carraway, who also lives in the complex, knew of the offer.
Collins said she asked if she could do it but got no answer. Carraway bought a unit for her apartment on Tuesday for $170.
The villas at Sandrock Apartments have received numerous citations from the city as part of this, according to Shabazz, and a trial date will be set for those.
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