INDIAN WELLS – For years, residents in Indian Wells Villas and Mountain View Villas have raised concerns about how safe and how well maintained the city’s two affordable senior housing developments are.
A Desert Sun review of emails, contracts and other public records shows the topics of frustration are wide-ranging, from deteriorating landscapes and poor maintenance to the departure of a popular employee.
But the elderly residents also have raised questions about whether the city — their landlord — is properly protecting them: Two maintenance employees were arrested after a series of burglaries in 2012, and a pending lawsuit against Indian Wells City Hall contends that residents weren’t properly notified.
“Several tenants complained that they were missing valuables. (Management) told them they were getting old and forgetful and to go home and look some more,” Indian Wells Villas resident Nancy Browning said in a complaint letter to city officials after her silverware and three rings went missing.
Inundated with calls, emails and in-person complaints, the city in recent months has started to make changes.
On April 18, City Manager Wade McKinney sent National Community Renaissance (National CORE) a “no-cause” termination letter that did not include a reason for the dismissal.
The city also extended an interim management contract to Hyder, a company that manages a number of other Coachella Valley developments.
Officials are now trying to find a permanent replacement.
“We’ve been sitting here for over two years, maybe three years hearing complaints from the residents in both of those communities and we didn’t take action,” Councilman Doug Hanson said. “We have to accept some of the responsibility for the actions that are going on.”
Indian Wells owns both Indian Wells Villas and Mountain View Villas, but subleases them to a company to operate the 218 units.
From 2003 until this April’s contract termination, that operator was National CORE, a Rancho Cucamonga-based foundation that manages properties across California, Florida and Texas. It also was behind a renovation at Cathedral Palms Apartments in Cathedral City and helped develop the LEED-certified Desert Meadows in Indio.
National CORE spokesman Steve Lambert said the company would not have ignored complaints about safety, and insisted they had been working with both the city and residents on issues for more than a year.
“When issues are brought to management’s attention, we sit down with residents and try to understand what those concerns might be and work with them to address them,” he said.
He said the company has a long history of well managed affordable housing projects.
When asked about the Indian Wells’ termination, he said it was “mutual.”
“It’s unfortunate when something doesn’t work out … the way everyone hoped it would,” Lambert told The Desert Sun.
The burglary at Nadezda Rubakovic’s home in Indian Wells Villas happened in November 2012. On Jan. 21, she sued the city and National CORE, contending “negligence,” “fraud” and “adult abuse” because she wasn’t told about other burglaries until she called police about losing jewelry and $12,000 in cash.
“They knew about prior thefts but failed to notify the authorities or the residents,” the lawsuit contends.
The rest of the story. The Desert Sun <<
The Ebeneezer Scrooge story about National CORE is a recommended read. Click here