Issues Remain at Huntington Place Apartments, Brooklyn Park Leaders Discuss Next Steps
A nonprofit housing developer has been taking steps to improve a Brooklyn Park apartment complex known for high-crime rates and unresolved tenant issues. However, tenants of Huntington Place Apartments say the changes aren’t coming fast enough.
Aeon acquired Huntington Place in January 2020. Since then, officials with the company say they’ve been working closely with the city in an effort to improve the area.
Huntington Place Tenant Describes Living Conditions
Cheyanne King and her 8-month-old daughter moved to Huntington Place in May. But almost a year later, and they’re losing patience.
“I have ice growing on my windows, a lot. Mold has been an issue in the bathroom especially and window seals,” King explained.
The single mom said she’s been without heat for about two weeks. Maintenance crews have come a couple times but it’s still not fixed.
Lately, King’s daughter has been sleeping with her for extra warmth and body heat.
Aeon told CCX, heat problems have only been reported a couple days ago and that crews are working on the boiler systems.
“They gave me three space heaters but I pay for electricity, so I feel like I shouldn’t have to run that and it blew my fuse a few times,” King said.
Aeon said tenants were notified to bring their electricity bill to the office, as they would pay for the difference. But King said she hasn’t received anything. King also expressed concerns of safety at the apartment complex, saying it’s getting worse.
Crime Rates Down
Numbers according to Brooklyn Park police show crime rates in Huntington Place actually went down by 35% and calls for service went down 11%.
In 2019, the apartment complex had 591 crimes. That’s compared to 383 crimes in 2020.
“We’ve done quite a number of things at the property. Probably the most visible would be the camera system that we completely updated and improved upon. We quadrupled it,” said Sarah Harris, executive vice president of Aeon.
Aeon Makes Improvements
Aeon has made several other improvements to huntington place including plumbing and electrical. Due to COVID, several immediate maintenance needs were identified that took priority over the agree upon improvements.
Aeon also received PPE funding’s that helped pay for extra costs related to COVID at the property. However, many residents were denied rental assistance.
“Aeon actually raised money from donors, foundations and corporations and we applied the funds we received from fundraisers to help tenants that were denied for rental assistance through the government program,” Harris explained.
Last year, the Brooklyn Park Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved a $5 million loan to Aeon to make improvements. But during Tuesday’s EDA meeting, some board members expressed disappointment.
“I’m just not necessarily excited about giving more and more to Aeon when I feel like we’ve been let down and letting down the good people who live there,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of the Brooklyn Park EDA.
Aeon Requests More Affordable Units
During that same meeting, the EDA also approved to make 100% of the units at Huntington Place affordable living. This decision places the apartment complex at a “4d” tax status. By allowing all units be affordable, Aeon will get an additional tax benefit of about $96,00 per year.
Previously, only 80% of the units were affordable or restricted. Had it not have been for the decision to make all units affordable, the other 20% would have seen an increase of rent after COVID.
“We are able to use that savings in property taxes to put back into the buildings and make improvements that help residents enjoy the building more,” explained Harris.
However, not everybody at the meeting agreed to make 100% of Huntington units affordable. Tonja West-Hafner said the property is already getting a $400,000 tax benefit which seems enough. More importantly, making all units affordable goes against the original goal.
“I think it’s very opposite of what we’ve been saying, that when we’re looking at new projects and bringing new stuff in here, to get some affordability into some of those new units. We specifically set up mixed income situations,” said West-Hafner.
Harris wants to remind people that things don’t change overnight, but tenants like King believe Aeon has had enough time.