Residents living with bed bugs, rats say they're neglected by group seeking millions to build new complex

Some Houston residents are planning to go before city council tomorrow because they say they’re living in deplorable conditions in Fifth Ward.

Residents who live in the Cleme Manor Apartments say they’re dealing with everything from rodents to bed bugs to raw sewage back-ups and city leaders are paying attention because the complex owner is asking the city for millions of dollars to put up even more Houston housing.

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"In this particular situation NHP has been a bad actor on every level," says Houston City Council Member Letitia Plummer. The NHP Foundation is the company that owns Cleme Manor Apartments in Fifth Ward. "They’re HUD supported, which means they’re getting checks top of the month, every month," Plummer adds.

Resident Stacy Tillman says she has battled bed bugs.

"I got rid of my furniture, replaced that," she said before naming other infestations. "Well, roaches. At first, I had mice, but I took care of all of that on my own."

Tillman added that she struggled with a host of other health concerns while living at Cleme Manor.

"When I was staying more at the back in 273, it was a rat infestation. It was really, really bad," says Cleme Manor resident Josefa Najera.

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Another resident says she and several neighbors were recently left to clean up raw sewage.

"It was coming up out of the toilet and the tub, and it overflowed, and it went all in the rooms, the living room. It went everywhere. It flooded everywhere. Me and my kids had to try to get the buckets to dump the water out the window," resident Saveor Hagan explains. 

"This has been ongoing. We’ve checked the record, the 311 calls. In the last 24 months, they’ve had over 11 calls to the health department," adds Councilwoman Plummer.

She says there have been 75 calls against Cleme Manor to 311 in the last decade, not including complaints to the state and county.

"That’s a lot of calls from a habitability health perspective and for them to have never done anything to rectify the situation. They’re bad actors as far as I’m concerned," Plummer adds.

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NHP boasts on its website it owns 52 properties in 15 states, including four complexes here in Houston.

The company went before Houston City Council just last week hoping to get millions of dollars to build a fifth here in Houston.

"This property is subsidized by both the city and the county, and we were voting for us to give upwards of $18 million for them to build this particular property," Plummer explains about NHP's proposed property.

That vote is now paused until this week.

"Until we put something that’s enforceable in place then there’s no way I can stand behind this vote," Plummer says.

Councilwoman Letitia Plummer has written an "apartment inspection reform" ordinance in hopes fixing these same issues with hundreds of area apartments. 

NHP Foundation sent the following statement: 

"We are very appreciative of Mayor Turner and several other council members for their support of the Magnificat supportive housing development. We are working hard to gain the trust of the other council members by providing them additional information, and we will be meeting with several of them to answer any questions.

As providers of quality affordable housing in Houston, we take the concerns of residents very seriously and will continue to do everything in our power to address all issues."