NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The Willows apartment complex in East New Orleans has tightened security measures after residents told us they were terrified of living there.
Last week, three murders took place at the complex in less than 24 hours. Both shootings took place at the Lawrence Road complex. The first occurred around 11 p.m. Tuesday and left two people dead. The second happened around 1 p.m. Wednesday and left another dead.
Off-duty police guard the front of The Willows at night, monitoring who comes and goes. It’s a small step forward for people who say they live in fear.
Although there are signs of progress, some say it is not enough.
Workers have fixed the problems in Cierra Dobard’s house that we first highlighted last month and there is no longer a hole in Caroline Bailey’s bedroom.
“The fact that it took FOX 8, that it took Helena Moreno, that it took all of this just to fix my wall and just to get resolution around this whole complex is totally ridiculous,” Dobard commented. .
While these two residents have seen some improvements, others who live at The Willows say they are still surrounded by dirt.
Melvia Hodges first moved into the resort in March. She says that just a few days after living there, the ceiling buckled and water crashed into the kitchen. Hodges immediately moved out. But his things remained. Hodges says that after three months, the unit has still not been touched by management.
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A spokesperson for The Willows said Hodges’ former unit is expected to be worked on by a construction crew.
In early June, Hodges says she left her hotel room to return to The Willows. She says management put her in a new unit, but even in that unit the ceiling was leaking.
“When I told them, ‘hey, the ceiling is leaking in the same place you fixed it,’ she told me to put a pot there,” Hodges explains.
She also says there are plumbing issues clogging the tub and sinks which she reported to management.
The owner of this resort, Global Ministries Foundation, is a Tennessee-based nonprofit religious organization. CEO Dr. Richard Hamlet, an ordained minister, previously told us that repairs are underway here, though labor shortages and setbacks from Hurricane Ida have complicated efforts.
For the people who live here they say they still feel hopeless and just want a better quality of life.
“I’m still a little anxious because I really don’t believe they’re going to leave if you hadn’t all been called, it wouldn’t have been done,” Bailey says.
“Everyone should have the right to live comfortably and that’s just ridiculous,” adds Hodges.
Next week, the owner of The Willows is due to appear before a code enforcement hearing over violations found during the agency’s surprise visit. These violations include electrical system hazards and problems with plumbing fixtures and heating systems.
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