This was, by no means, your ordinary, run-of-the-mill management meeting with property residents. Memphis Police were called to the Pendleton Place Apartments Tuesday afternoon as tempers flared, and the physical threat of assault broke out.
What began as a “good-faith” attempt to hear the grievances of residents in embattled Pendleton Place Apartments, quickly disintegrated into an angry shouting match between residents and on-property managers. Police were called after an office staffer lunged for one resident and had to be physically restrained.
Shannon Washington, known by her Pendleton Place neighbors as “Queen,” was the resident who called MPD. She shouted at managers that she was “tired of them lying” and pretending that they were “doing what they were supposed to be doing” in the day-to-day operations of the property.
“I am not going to stand here and let y’all keep lying about what these people have complained about,” said Washington. “You don’t even return my calls anymore, and you’ve sent people to harass me, and you know you have.”
Washington is a self-declared activist who has mediated with property managers on behalf of her neighbors for nearly a year. The two most pressing issues have been heating on a continuous basis in some units and a persistent rat infestation for many residents.
When Washington’s outburst singled out one manager in particular, other staffers held her back as she shouted back at Washington and attempted to approach her.
Lynn Haner, from corporate communications of the Monroe Group, the new management company out of Denver, Colorado, came in to meet with residents after frequent calls from residents about living conditions at the complex. Some 40-50 residents and their children were in attendance.
“As you can see, we have been renovating the property because we do care about your concerns,” said Haner. “The new owners are spending millions to update the units and address the problems here. It is because we do care about you.”
Pendleton Place was purchased by Steele Properties in July, and renovations began two months later. Bathrooms and kitchens are some primary improvements, as well as adding windows in all the units. A new laundry room and playground will also be part of the refurbishment effort, said Haner.
When Haner opened a question-and-answer session, residents aired their individual complaints, mostly that the local property management office “did nothing” to address their issues.
Residents accused managers of “stealing and allowing maintenance people to steal from them” as well. One resident said her washing machine was stolen, and no one saw a thing.”
Other residents began to shout their grievances, and it became impossible to maintain order. Haner tried to disband the meeting before it descended any further into chaos.
“Please just come to us one-on-one,” she said. “Get a form from the office and fill it out. We will address your concerns as quickly as possible. This is a work in progress.”
By that time, police had already been called, quickly arriving on the scene.
Washington reflected on what transpired.
“No matter what kinds of conditions we face living here, I want my daughter, to strive for the best, to be the best—to grow up into a confident, articulate, caring woman who wants to do something meaningful with her life. We want that for all our children. And these managers aren’t doing their jobs. We shouldn’t have to endure some things just because we are in subsidized housing.”
Memphis Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Young has been keeping a close eye on the situation.
“Complaints about these living conditions actually involve the Shelby County Health Department Environmental Division and City Code Enforcement,” he said. “Both have been out to inspect the property. So I suspect they will be working on it. My understanding is that the owners are cooperating.”