Many residents of the Jeffrey-Lynne neighborhood in Anaheim have never had a reason to trust their landlords.
Take the case of Juanita Sandoval, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment on Jeffrey Drive with her 4-month-old daughter, boyfriend and his family. Their apartment has hot water only intermittently. The kitchen has faulty plumbing. The bedroom window is cracked. But perhaps most astounding, occupants don't have a key to the apartment.
Until Dec. 1, when Southern California Housing Development Corp., a nonprofit management company, took over their building, the Sandovals paid $500 rent to a landlord who they say never responded to their complaints. They say they repeatedly asked the landlord to repair the sink and give them a key, but neither happened. The Sandovals fixed what they could.
Gaining their confidence will take time, said James Aliberti, director of the housing corporation, the management company that recently took over 29 apartment complexes in the area.
In the first phase of a controversial revitalization plan approved by the City Council a few weeks ago for the Jeffrey-Lynne--bounded by Cerritos and Audre avenues and Walnut and 9th streets--Southern California Housing has undertaken an inspection of each apartment, talking with owners and assessing what work needs to be done.
"It breaks your heart," said Aliberti, on a recent visit to an apartment where the oven didn't work, the bathroom floor had missing tiles and mold grew on the ceiling. He said the management company has already done some basic maintenance work, fixing heat and electricity in about 100 apartments, but about half of the 29 buildings "are in unbelievably bad condition."
The second phase of the revitalization plan will involve relocating residents so another company--Related Companies--can begin refurbishing jobs. Bertha Chavoya, city housing manager, said Related won't begin work until next spring and said the dire conditions of at least several apartments could necessitate relocating some people immediately.
The city has guaranteed it will find homes for all the residents, but still, rumors abound in the neighborhood just west of Disneyland.
"We heard that Disneyland was going to buy the property and tear it down," Sandoval said. "They never told us all the details of what was going on." Sandoval said she didn't realize Southern California Housing had taken over until a company representative asked for December's rent, which the family had already given their old landlord.
In addition to improving the apartment complexes, Southern California Housing plans to redo the community center, provide ESL classes for the mostly Latino community and on-site job training.
Judy Silber can be reached at (714) 966-5988