ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A southeast Albuquerque apartment complex is trashed, crime-ridden, and overrun by the homeless. Now, the property owner has until the end of the month to clean it up or go to court.
The Rising Phoenix Apartments has been a problem property for years and was slapped with health and safety housing code violations in May, according to the Nuisance Abatement Agreement signed by the city and the property owner. Six weeks later, people say the apartments are still neglected and a health hazard.
“At the end of May, the city sent housing inspectors. They found 50 violations of housing code issues, and imagine that right at the height of COVID when we’re telling everyone they have to stay home,” City Council President Pat Davis said.
“How could someone allow their property to even get this degraded?” asked Khadija Bottom, who works for a nonprofit that has helped people find low-income housing at the complex. “No one in their right mind would want to live in this.” She said she was made aware of the poor conditions at some of the units just last week by the city’s Solid Waste Department.
On Wednesday, News 13 crews saw windows at the complex off Gibson and Louisiana are still boarded up; units are covered in graffiti; many rooms are left wide open for people to come and go; and the pool is filled with trash and green water. The agreement states the property owner will need to sanitize the buildings, make fixes to hazardous wiring, among other repairs.
Last week, the city in a follow-up inspection determined the property has not met the first deadlines to fix the violations, according to a city spokesperson. Officials said police have been called to Rising Phoenix more than 100 times in just the past few months. City council President Pat Davis now wants the city to get involved.
“This is like a landlord from hell,” Davis explained. “The city sent notice tot he owner and said, ‘You have to clean this up.’ They agreed to do it, and as far as I can tell, they haven’t done anything at all. And so, our patience is done and we’re ready to take further action and try to move through the courts to see if the city can step in and help these residents.”
The city has given similar notices to other Albuquerque businesses in the past few years, including the Sahara Motel and two 7-11 stores. Both have since cleaned up and seen reduced crime rates. Davis added that it’s crucial to get the place cleaned quickly for the paying residents who have nowhere else to go.
“These are the folks that are most vulnerable to unemployment, have the hardest time accessing healthcare, and now we’re telling them they have to stay home, and this is the home the property owner’s giving them,” Davis said.
The attorney for the property owner, MKJS Investments, said they plan to make the fixes before the city gets involved.