2 apartment managers accused of forcing homeless to pay for Section 8 help

Two apartment building managers are accused of shaking down homeless people in Detroit.

The alleged scam had the homeless paying bribes to live in federally-funded housing at The Old Colony arms apartments. An indictment in federal court was filed Wednesday.

The allegations date back to 2013 and one of the most egregious allegations involved a homeless mom living in a shelter with her two small kids. She had to pay $500 to be moved up on the Section 8 list. 

Denise Williams, a woman whose been homeless for more than a year herself, said that allegedly making women "pay up" to get into section 8 housing and off the streets is just "evil."

"It's really tough but God is with me all the time," she said. "I just live day by day and try to do the best I can."

A federal indictment claims Nekicha Redmond and Lucresha Frank would move homeless women up on a wait list at what used to be The Colony Apartments to get into one of the 161 federally subsidized units - but only if they paid between $150 and $500 which is illegal.

"We deserve a chance to come up too," said Denise Williams.

"It does happen," said Pamela Girton-Hart who was able to get off the streets and into a home, and now gives back. But she did but spend two years without one. During that time, she heard stories just like this.
"There are some people out here who don't have any income," she said. "And they will do anything to get $150 to move into a house."

"People will sell their mother for some money," said Amelia Allen. "I'm not surprised by it."

Allen works with the Homeless Action Network Detroit as an advocate for the homeless. She says it is all too common, preying on a population more at risk because of longtime poverty, mental or physical illness.

"It's not just they lost their job," Allen said. "Because of all those different things that are weighing on those people, they are more vulnerable."

FOX 2 tried to track down the women named in the indictment. to see if they had anything to say about these very serious federal charges. No luck there.

It was Colony Arms which was called the most problematic building in the city, known for criminal activity and police raids. All that has changed, but the people responsible for wrong doing aren't off the hook.

And the building that used to be named Colony Arms is now completely different. It underwent a total renovation and now it is called one of the best places to live in terms of affordable housing if you need it. The building now has a new name and branding. 

Between 2012 and 2013 they had a federally backed mortgage of more than $3.5 million and got about $10,000 a year in other federal assistance.