Apartment tenants struggling with no heat, building owner lives in Ireland

- People living at an apartment building on Detroit's west side are enduring the cold without heat tonight.

When FOX 2 went to investigate the problem and had to put in a call to Ireland -- to try to get answers. That's because that's where the owner of the building now lives which is making it even harder for these tenants to be able to get what they need to live.
   
"I think we deserve heat it is January, it is cold outside," said Cierra Miller.

Miller and O'Shawn Boone were excited about their first apartment together inside University Green Apartments on West McNichols in Detroit when they moved in last September.

But it wasn't long before they were forced to deal with one problem after another - leaks, holes in the walls and hidden mold. They say the hardest part is they've only had about a week of heat since the day they moved in.

"Blankets, that space heater, we are trying to keep the kids nice and toasty," said Boone. "You can see it is so cold we can't even let them come out and play around out here. We have to keep them in there to keep them warm."

Their toddlers are snuggled in one room with a space heater. Another small heater is in the living room which makes the temperature almost bearable.

It's the same scenario in the next building where Sonya White says they are also forced to plug in small heaters to stay warm. Any bigger and they blow a fuse and the whole building loses electricity.

"We have kids in this building (and) I have my 87-year-old mother across the hall," said White. "All through Thanksgiving, all through Christmas, the heat was out for three weeks. The heat has been back on for two and a half weeks and it is out again. And it's freezing in here."

Moving is easier said than done for the countless tenants who have been living without heat.

City Management Group which runs the building says it is doing the best it can to fix the problems, but the building owner, Hugh O'Neil or Artesian Equities who lives in Ireland isn't giving them enough money to do it.

That's why City Management Group is working to sever their contract and ties with O'Neil.

"We are the fifth management property they've had for that property," said Katherine Carlier of City Management Group. "Everyone terminates their agreement because these guys don't want to do what they need to do to take care of the tenants."

"I am sad, I pay my rent, I pay my bills and I am a decent mother I don't want my child to go through this," White said. "He shouldn't have to live like this."

The city of Detroit has ticketed Hugh O'Neil due to the problems with the building, but nothing seems to happen because he lives in Ireland. FOX 2 emailed and called him for a response but as of tonight we have not heard back.

According to online records, O'Neil's Artesian Equities has had to forfeit hundreds of properties. A bright spot, a deal is pending for someone else to buy University Green Apartments and restore it - and it may be the tenants' only hope.


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