Things are finally looking up at Crestmont Village

-                 Things are finally looking up for residents of an apartment complex who had been left to live in squalid conditions in Southeast Houston. Now that the city has turned on the electricity, the Houston Food Bank has provided food. Next, the city is working to find residents a better place to live.

                Residents, volunteers, and police officers joined hands in prayer, Friday afternoon, for what they were about to receive. An entire truckload of food had just been delivered from the Houston Food Bank. It was a week’s worth of food for all of the families living at Crestmont Village Apartments.

                “It's really good,” said resident Cedric Lewis, who was in line collecting the donated groceries. “We've been having such a hard time over here in these apartments, trying to get food with lights out.”                   

               The food bank was asked to provide for 100 families. Instead they brought enough for 150, including fruits, canned goods, bread and water.

“This is a really unique situation here where hundreds of families were impacted,” said the Houston Food Bank’s Perry McAfee. “The Houston Food Bank wanted to respond in a really significant way.”

The City of Houston gave up trying to work with the owners of the apartment complex. The conditions had become inhumane. Now there are criminal charges involved, and a judge has appointed a receiver to handle all aspects of property ownership including collecting rent, paying utilities, and providing security.

“We, as Houstonians, this is what we do,” said the city’s William-Paul Thomas. “We help. We embrace. We don't embarrass. We don't point fingers. We just want to get them out of this place.”

The city is working to relocate residents and will pay their deposit and first month’s rent at the new location. “This is awesome. This is a breakthrough,” said the woman known as the Honorary Mayor of Sunnyside, Sandra Massie Hines.

Houston discovered that the same owner has done the exact same thing to apartment residents in Miami. The City of Houston has taken similar court action against the owners, identified as Denise and Abraham Vaknin.  But since it is now a criminal case, Houston hopes to have the New Jersey couple arrested, and extradited to Houston.

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