Cleaning up the mess in Durant

By: Daniel Gotera Email
By: Daniel Gotera Email

DURANT, Okla. -- In January, residents of the Crescent Creek Apartments in Durant were told they had to leave their homes. Then, they were told the Department of Housing and Urban Development would give them vouchers to allow them to stay, but for those vouchers to work the apartments have to meet certain safety standards. It’s something many residents now claim is a problem. Daniel Gotera has more.

Two weeks ago, residents were up in arms about losing rental assistance from HUD. Now some are upset about the condition of their apartments. It’s something they say apartment management should help them take care of.

"It’s gotten me madly upset and instead of being angry I feel that something ought to be done about this."

Scott Buckman and his family moved to Durant back in October. He says he likes the city; it's his home that has become a problem.

"This morning I got up and there was four inches of water in the apartment. My wife got out of bed because she heard the water running she slipped and fell face-down in it, and it was all sewage," Buckman says.

In fact it was so bad Buckman says when he opened the front door, sewage poured out of his apartment. But the leak didn’t just happen overnight. It’s a problem he's been dealing with for the past week, and it wasn't until he called the city he says that the issue was taken care of.

"My job is for apartment complexes to meet the minimum standard code," City of Durant building official Joseph Marquardt says.

Marquardt is the building official for the City of Durant and says he received a call Friday morning from Buckman alerting him of the problem.

By the afternoon, maintenance crews were at Buckman's home cleaning up the mess.

"If they do not meet with the international building codes or the housing and development codes that’s when we take effect and take action and follow due process."

Officials with housing and urban development told KXII-TV on Friday they broke the housing assistance program contract with the property owner in January because of the poor condition of the units. They revised that decision to allow residents to receive vouchers from the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency only if the apartment passes a housing quality standard inspection.

"There needs to be a lot of changes around here and I’m hoping they get addressed. I do not want people to lose their homes. I do not."

If the units do not pass, families are allowed to use the vouchers at other apartments.

Buckman says that’s difficult for a lot of families, and a better response to maintenance issues would help.

"That’s what I want, I mean I have always paid my rent every month and to me that ought to be at the top of the list."

Crews are in the process of cleaning up the Buckman's apartment. In the meantime the family has been moved to another unit.

Officials with the apartment complex say they try and get to each problem as quick as possible.

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