HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Once called "the worst of the worst in Henrico County," leaders say they're upset over a possible rent increase at Essex Village.
According to a letter sent to county leaders, Maggie Lena Walker Apartments LLC, the "Proposed Owner" of the project, submitted a request for approval for an increase in rent. It says it was submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The letter is signed by the prospective buyer of the property, Ernst Valery with EVI Equity whose website says is based out of Baltimore, MD.
The buyer wants to jack up prices on a place renters say is infested with roaches and is falling apart. There have been 500 complaints in the last four years.
And because it's a HUD complex, a majority of that proposed hike would come from taxpayers.
People living at HUD complexes receive federal assistance for a percentage of their rent, for some it's the entire cost.
There are two increases in the proposal, one effective October 23 and another increase upon completion of rehab.
Here's the breakdown:
- 1 BR – Current Rate: $750, Oct. 23 Rate: $850, Proposed Rent Upon Completion: $1,055
- 2 BR – Current Rate: $867, Oct. 23 Rate: $1,025, Proposed Rent Upon Completion: $1,190
- 3 BR – Current Rate: $969, Oct. 23 Rate: $1,220, Proposed Rent Upon Completion: $1,385
Henrico County Deputy Manager Douglas Middleton couldn't believe the news.
"There's something wrong with the system, this kind of thing should not be happening," said Middleton.
Middleton says the proposal was never discussed or brought to the city's attention.
"I don't know if he's pulling a fast one, but I think he should've known better to have done this without at least giving us a heads up," he said.
For months, NBC12 has been investigating the living conditions at the county's largest subsidized housing complex. It includes broken pipes, broken railings, plumbing leaks and infestations.
The management company, PK Management, has come under fire for its lack of maintenance and letting the complex fall into disrepair.
Most recently, the owners, VA Essex Investors LLC were taken to court by the county for multiple building code violations. The charges were dismissed because management fixed the issues.
The rent hike isn't a done deal. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development still had to approve it.
Congressman Donald McEachin says he was surprised to see the rent increase notice. His full statement:
NBC12 reached out to Ernst Valery for comment but has not yet heard back.
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