Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Drop the Bomb on Monroe Avenue

Sorry for the sporadic and indifferent blogging of late. I was away from the computer all weekend and then yesterday the new property managers (PMs) for our complex dropped the bomb on us.

The PMs sent out letters to most of the residents of five of the six buildings they manage on this street. All will have their month-to-month leases terminated at the end of this month. My buildings will be shut down and boarded up, preparatory to being completely stripped and remodelled.

Residents on longer leases (like my year-to-year lease) will be terminated as their leases expire. But it's clear, everyone is going from at least four buildings, maybe five, by year's end. The sixth building is spared for now as it's still in excellent repair. All the others have suffered from a series of landlords and property managers who ranged from overwhelmed to actively indifferent to just plain cheap. The buildings have suffered a lot; the apartments can't be filled; the residents we do have are either druggies or fearful decent people.

There's been a change in the crack business on the street. The shifts happened over the past few months. The drug dealer behind me apparently got the message and scaled his activities waaaaay back. He announced last month he was moving a bit farther east, but he's still using the apartment with friends. The dealers across the street were evicted finally, so that stopped. (Although the crackheads keep breaking into one apartment as a crashpad and den.)

But the apartments in the middle of the street, and the house owned by a cop next door, became the new center of drug activity. It's unbelievable down there; worse than almost anything ever was here. It's nearly completely over-run.

But the most amazing thing is the formerly quiet apartment directly across from me. It used to be low key except for some activity by the homeless at one apartment. That guy was grandfathered into the ownership of the building by the former owner, his father! He cannot be evicted in his lifetime and he lives for free. So he's utterly uncaring about anything.

But then some new tenants moved in there and it all quickly went to hell. There's the new single mother who, for inexplicable reasons, began to hang out with and party with the male crackheads on the street. Next thing, they were over there regularly.

Then there's the single mother with two good-looking daughters. One is sixteen and very attractive; she's prone to tight tees and short shorts. The other daughter is a single mother in her twenties and is also attractive. So is their mother. All began to hang out with and socialise with the crackhead population at the apartments in the middle of the block who drifted over once they laid eyes on the trio. And they all chaperone these guys around in their car, as does the single mother.

The men began to hang out on the steps, like cats smelling a female in heat; some even spent the night there. Rumors about the sexual exploits of the mother and youngest daughter began to pop up and, sadly, they are easy to believe based on their public behavior. It's fascinating in that train wreck kind of way.

And then there's the man who has been trading liquor and drug money for sex. He's got some of the crackheads staying over at his place, too. When his stereo equipment was stolen he was angry but his neighbors had little sympathy. Considering who he let visit him, it wasn't a surprise.

Their resident manager in the past week has gotten into three fights with men he's trying to keep off the property. (All crackheads.) He's being advised to carry his gun with him, as we think retaliation might be coming. It's hard to say, though, since he's been dealing with the crackhead zombies and not the dealers. But, he's standing up to them and creating a profile. He may need hammering back down.

The constant circus over there finally reached its limit and now he's evicting the mother and two daughters. The other woman is being given final notice. The man has decided on his own to leave the city. So, I might be moving across the street soon.

And dealing with all this mess has been keeping me away from the computer.

The upshot is that the drug problem might be decimated soon. The downside is the hardline PMs are using the nuclear option to do it, scattering most of us to the winds. And there's little reason to believe they'll patrol and monitor the boarded up buildings sufficiently, meaning those of us who remain might still have druggies but with the added bonus of breakins and fires! Sweet.

The rumor is that the buildings I presently live in will, in fact, be demolished to make way for two or three single-family homes. It wouldn't be a bad idea, given what's happening on the rest of the street. The new house on the corner is quickly shaping up nicely; it's sited well and so far fits in handsomely.

It's hard to know what's happening. The new PMs are being very vague and hard to reach, even duplicitous. They originally sent out notices right after taking over asking us our maintenance concerns and indicating they would be coming around with new lease agreements for everyone. Then mere weeks later, they dropped the bomb. On the day that happened, they didn't answer their phones or return calls. When you could get through, it was "So and so is out / in a meeting / just popped in then left." Leave a message; get no call back. They have a plan, but they don't plan to share it with us.

It's shaping up already as an interesting summer.

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