Mayor's Strike Force Team helps Houston residents living in inhumane conditions

Rodents, roaches, and mold are just a few of the health hazards thousands of Houston residents report living in every day. What's being done to help?

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In the last 2 years alone, there were nearly 12,000 calls to the City of Houston from residents reporting inhumane living conditions. So the mayor created a task force, the Strike Force Team, which has now helped shut down two different slumlords.

"I've been living like this for 2, 3 years now," explains 66-year-old Sandra as she walks into a closet covered in black mold on every wall and the ceiling. Then she shows us her kitchen where water often pours in from the ceiling. "Mostly when my neighbor flushes her toilet. The lady upstairs, she said it was a rat that bit through the plumbing," says Sandra who's disabled with arthritis.

It's difficult to even look at the inhumane conditions in apartments around Houston, including leaks, black mold and mice. So, imagine living in it.

"It's very unpleasant. I've been coughing. I have the worst headache right now," Sandra explains. 

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We first met the 66-year-old as she sobbed in court. She's being evicted because she doesn't believe she should have to pay to live in such squalor "but I don't know where else I'm going to go" and she isn't alone.

In 2021 5,183 Houston apartment tenants called 311 to report horrific living conditions. That number rose to 6,801 in 2022. Residents typically call the city when apartment management ignores repeated requests for repairs.

"It takes them forever to come and fix something. I've called them three times about my stove. They keep putting it off and putting it off. The air conditioner has been off for 3, 4 months," says Sandra. 

"If they're living in those conditions, and they haven't reported to 311 please report to 311," adds Walter Hambrick the Mayor's Office Deputy Chief of Staff and heads the Strike Force Team, created by the mayor to stop slumlords. 

"We're looking for those bad actors that just build up tickets, and aren't addressing the concerns," Hambrick explains. 

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The task force is made up of Houston Public Works, the health department, HFD, HPD, and the mayor's office.

"It gives that comprehensive approach because if you've got one problem you've got multiple. This task force lets us go out there and really address it at one time," says Hambrick.


The Strike Force Team was created in July 2022 and the team visits 10 to 12 complexes a week. Last month they helped take away complexes from two apartment owners after meeting with their lien holders. 

"Their mortgage companies called in their loans," Hambrick explains. 

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Remember, tenants still have to pay rent even if repairs aren't being made. The way to address it is to report problems about your apartment to 311, so the team can respond to your complex 

66-year-old Sandra, by the way, has been evicted and was given five days to move. She says she doesn't know where she's going to go.