It started with a mouse bite, one little Isabella Garces received in the middle of the night a few months ago.
Word traveled fast as the 1-year-old lay in a room in St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Eventually, it reached the Rev. Ashley "AJ" Johnson, a community leader who knew Isabella's mother through his work at Thirman Milner School.
Soon, Johnson saw firsthand the poor conditions that Isabella and her mother, Katiria Rivera, live in: mouse droppings in every room, an infestation so severe that Rivera's uncle caught 31 rodents over the course of two days using glue strips.
Johnson began looking into the building's owner, ultimately unraveling a network of subsidized housing in the North End that government officials last month said "raised serious health and safety concerns."
"Hartford has to do better with situations like this," Johnson said Monday. "This guy owns a concentrated area of poverty here, and no one has shed a light on it. And there are children living here."
LAUREN SCHNEIDERMAN | email@example.com
The young pastor is holding a community meeting Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to call attention to Emmanuel Ku, the man behind the Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments. Ku, operating out of Queens, N.Y., owns 26 subsidized properties in Hartford, for a total of 150 rentable units, according to Rhonda Siciliano, a spokeswoman from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Ku's battles with local housing boards have become highly publicized in other states, including Alabama, Michigan and New York.
At Johnson's insistence, HUD officials inspected the apartment building where Rivera lives on May 30. The department issued a notice of default to Ku the next week that identified "several deficiencies that needed to be corrected right away," according to a statement from the department's local office.
LAUREN SCHNEIDERMAN | firstname.lastname@example.org
Those deficiencies included unsecured balconies at the building, the rodent infestation and the presence of mold in several units, Siciliano said.
Ku followed the instructions provided to him after the May inspection, the HUD statement reads. But the default notice came with an expanded inspection of 50 percent of the properties in the Renaissance Apartments, a move that the government agency noted was "much more intense than the usual sample."
That second inspection was completed June 28 and 29, and the full results of it are not yet available, according to HUD.
"I know it's not popular to organize around this, but it's a crucial issue," Johnson said. "Just because you're on HUD housing doesn't mean you're not a person."
Ku, in a statement to The Courant, said his company is aware of the issues at the apartments and is particularly concerned with the rodent issue, which he attributed to the recent demolition of a "meat packing building close by." It's unclear which building he was referring to.
Further, Ku said his company has worked continuously with an exterminator, but said the issue is not yet resolved. He encouraged tenants to sign up for the extermination service at no cost to them.
"We have undertaken recommendations irrespective of the cost by the exterminator," Ku said. "It is our mission to provide a safe and clean living environment to all tenants at CARA."
He also noted his company's efforts to increase safety around the properties by installing security cameras and underscored his commitment to "engaging tenants to learn about issues and working together to resolve them."
Josh Serrano hopes those words ring true. He lives inside a Ku-owned building on Main Street. A black patch of mold looms like a sore on the ceiling of one his bathrooms.
He said he had been complaining about conditions inside the apartment for three years. Work didn't begin, he said, until HUD came calling last month. During their visit, he threw a glue strip into the building's hallway to catch their attention. It was full of still-dying mice.
"To them, it's nothing major, but my kids use this bathroom, I use this bathroom," Serrano said. "If everything was really a 'minor problem,' nothing would get done."
Last year, Ku received $1.6 million in rent subsidies from HUD for his Hartford properties, Siciliano said. City records show he bought all of his Hartford property on the same date in 2011 from another company that owned them, Clay Hill Associates.
Representatives from Mayor Luke Bronin's office said they were unable Monday to immediately answer questions about the city's record of inspections at the building where Rivera lives, or the other properties owned by Ku through his company, Ah Min Holding LLC.
Teri Morrison, a three-year tenant who lives in the same building as Rivera, hopes the city can provide those answers. She says she hasn't had much luck in communicating with Ku and his colleagues.
"They try to blame all of our problems on us not being clean," Morrison said as she stood in her kitchen, a "ground zero" for the mice in her apartment. "This building is just old and full of holes. If you buy something, if you invest in something, you have to make sure it's safe and clean for the people living in it."
Morrison has to clean mouse droppings daily, she said, and in a recent visit to her home tiny piles of them were hidden away in corners, near apparently ineffective glue traps. She's taken to storing her bread and other bakery items in plastic bags, which she tacks to the walls above her cabinets. Fruit has to be stored in the fridge, she added.
Maintenance workers have sprayed foam sealant under her baseboard heaters three times, she said. Yet, the "mice keep getting better," she said.
- Home Pest Control Services | Call an Exterminator | Orkin - September 12th, 2020
- DaBaby and Quavo Mess With a Magic Smartphone in "Pick Up" Visual - HYPEBEAST - September 9th, 2020
- Nowhere to live in Bedford County: One woman's battle with rats, bugs - Shelbyville Times-Gazette - September 6th, 2020
- When Canada's big city rats were enjoying the summer weather in 2001 - CBC.ca - August 23rd, 2020
- 14 Best Pest Control Companies - Newark NJ | Exterminators - July 12th, 2020
- Pest Control for Rodents | Get Rid of Rats and Mice - July 12th, 2020
- Rats Adapt To A World In Pandemic Mode - Here And Now - May 19th, 2020
- Edinburgh's rat population is 'out of control' with rodents gathering in gardens - Edinburgh Live - April 21st, 2020
- Coronavirus lockdowns are forcing rats to resort to cannibalism and infanticide due to lack of food sources - MEAWW - April 14th, 2020
- Rats on the rise as shutdown cuts their food supply - Tweed Daily News - April 6th, 2020
- Guide to Cockroaches, Bed Bugs and Rodents in Paterson NJ - Patch.com - February 26th, 2020
- Rodent Exterminator - 54 Photos & 14 Reviews - Pest ... - February 21st, 2020
- Owners of rat-infested home on near west side fined - The State Journal-Register - February 6th, 2020
- Fort Pierce wants to keep temporary animal shelter open through June - TCPalm - January 22nd, 2020
- Rodents in the attic: Beware of winter fire dangers - The Mountaineer - December 6th, 2019
- New theories emerge to explain dead rats washed up in Westport - RNZ - November 20th, 2019
- How to Get Rid of Mice, Rats, & Other Rodents in Your Shed - October 20th, 2019
- Patton Termite & Pest Control - Exterminator Services ... - October 4th, 2019
- Rodent identification guide | Western Exterminator - September 10th, 2019
- Exterminator Rodents - September 10th, 2019
- How do exterminators get rid of mice? - My Homey Home - September 8th, 2019
- Rodent Exterminator | Rodent Removal | Rodent Exterminators - May 29th, 2019
- Rodent Exterminators | Rodent Control & Removal | Allgood ... - May 24th, 2019
- Rodents | Boca Raton Termite Extermination, Pest Control ... - May 24th, 2019
- Pest Control Sacramento | Top Exterminators | Golden Hills ... - May 12th, 2019
- Mouse Exterminator Cost - Fixr.com - March 29th, 2019
- Rodent Control in Milwaukee County, WI | Rodent Exterminator - March 16th, 2019
- Beeline Pest Control - March 12th, 2019
- Exterminators Get Rid of Rodents Attic Crawlspace Rats ... - March 7th, 2019
- Pest Control Albuquerque | Exterminator Albuquerque NM - February 9th, 2019
- Seattle Commercial Rodent Control Exterminators for Rats ... - September 29th, 2018
- What Odors Do Rodents Like? | Pest Control and Bug ... - September 29th, 2018
- Anaheim Mice Control - Anaheim Pest Control Pros - September 29th, 2018
- Peoria Mice Control - Peoria Pest Control Pros - September 29th, 2018
- Norman Mice Control - Norman Pest Control Pros - September 29th, 2018
- Rodents - Southold Pest Control and Exterminator - July 28th, 2018
- Rodents - Manhasset Pest Control and Exterminator - June 7th, 2018
- Rodents In Memphis Tn | Rodents Exterminator - May 28th, 2018
- New Jersey Mice & Rodent Control | Exterminator For ... - April 23rd, 2018
- Mice, Rodent, and Rat Exterminator in Buffalo, NY - March 26th, 2018
- DIY Rodent Control & Traps | Rodent Extermination Products ... - March 9th, 2018
- Rodent Control Exterminator - Hitmen Termite & Pest Control - January 25th, 2018
- Exterminator does the dirty work for rodent-besieged ... - January 7th, 2018
- DIY Rodent Control, Traps, and Rodent Extermination ... - November 18th, 2017
- #1 Pest Control in Chicago, Illinois! Top Exterminator for ... - October 28th, 2017
- Local rat population surging - The Daily Post - September 5th, 2017
- Pest Control Exterminator in Buffalo, NY - ProStar Pest ... - August 29th, 2017
- Couple's horror as plague of rats infests their car and EATS the engine while their other motor is littered with ... - The Sun - August 26th, 2017
- Flea Control, Treatment, and Prevention - Victoria Advocate - August 7th, 2017
- The number of rat infestations in Leicester is going up - Leicester Mercury - August 4th, 2017
- Employees say Jacksonville International Airport has major rat infestation - ActionNewsJax.com - August 4th, 2017
- Creepy creature a mix between spider, scorpion; native to Arizona - ABC2 News - August 2nd, 2017
- Calling the Pied Piper: Rats invade Petaluma - Petaluma Argus Courier - July 31st, 2017
- Feral cats in demand | Calaveras County's Most Trusted News ... - Calaveras Enterprise - July 31st, 2017
- New York unveils $32-million fight vs rats - Inquirer.net - July 13th, 2017
- Mice seen as invading City Hall - Philly.com - Philly.com - July 13th, 2017
- Hartford residents speak out on unsafe, unhealthy living conditions ... - FOX 61 - July 12th, 2017
- Get Rid of Rodents | pest-control.com | pest-control.com - July 10th, 2017
- Dirty Dining: Alessi Bakery's rodent infestation evident by rodent ... - ABC Action News - July 8th, 2017
- From toilet bowls to car engines, rat sightings are up at Danforth and Woodbine - CBC.ca - July 3rd, 2017
- 'They were nesting in my underpants' - John Woodhouse on the city's rodent issues - Stoke Sentinel - July 2nd, 2017
- Dirty Dining: Bombay Grill Indian Cuisine shut down for 700+ rodent droppings in kitchen - ABC Action News - June 24th, 2017
- How a Joke About Flying Squirrels Led to an Ailing Woman's Cure - New York Times - June 22nd, 2017
- DNA from Egyptian mummies and Viking graves reveals how cats conquered the world - Popular Science - June 19th, 2017
- Philly nursing home has abysmal rating and rodents, too - Philly.com - June 12th, 2017
- Rat Mob! Rodents Swarm in Myanmar Villages - Live Science - June 8th, 2017
- Villagers fight back as rat hordes swarm Irrawaddy Delta's Ngapudaw - DVB (registration) - June 6th, 2017
- Minnesota sewer rats create nightmare for homeowner - THV 11 - June 6th, 2017
- My College Roommates Were Rats - The New Yorker - June 6th, 2017
- Thursday's best TV: Paula; The Truth About HIV; Jago: A Life ... - The Guardian - May 25th, 2017
- The Arizona Department of Economic Security Is Infested With Rats (Literally) - Phoenix New Times - May 20th, 2017
- MPI's Changes To Rodent Claim Policy Could Mean Lost Local Jobs ... - PembinaValleyOnline.com - May 1st, 2017
- Rodent Control and Removal Methods | Terminix - April 29th, 2017
- Long-time Atlanta restaurant fails second health inspection in seven months - WSB Atlanta - April 19th, 2017
- Burrowing rodents threaten Central Oregon canals - The Register-Guard - April 13th, 2017
- Former employee posts video of rats in Denison Little Caesar's - KXII-TV - April 13th, 2017
- San Francisco Cockroach Exterminator Bed Bug Rodent & Ant Pest Control Announced - MilTech - April 12th, 2017
- Digging rodents threaten canal safety in Central Oregon; Ground ... - Bend Bulletin - April 12th, 2017
- Rats! Infestation forces firefighters from Riverside South station ... - Ottawa Sun - April 3rd, 2017
- Exterminators tackle Riverside South fire station rats - Ottawa Citizen - April 3rd, 2017