St. Louis, MO (STL.News) – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that the office settled the lawsuit pending against the Saint Louis Housing Authority and McCormack Baron for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Protection Act and public nuisance claims.
“I am pleased that the Saint Louis Housing Authority and McCormack Baron have taken steps since this case was filed to stem the infestations suffered by their tenants,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “The terms of the settlement will ensure that they will continue their remediation efforts and become transparent with consumers and tax payers about the housing conditions at the complex.”
The lawsuit was filed in August 2018 after a public outcry by consumers living in the Clinton Peabody Housing Complex south of downtown St. Louis City. In pictures, taken by investigators with the Consumer Protection Section of the Attorney General’s Office, infestations of mice, mold, and cockroaches could be seen – showing the conditions tenants were forced to live in at the complex. The settlement acknowledges that the Saint Louis Housing Authority and McCormack Baron have spent over $300,000 and one thousand hours since the filing of the case on efforts to remediate the mold, mice and bug infestations.
“We appreciate the positive changes that have taken place here at the Clinton Peabody Housing Complex. The Clinton Peabody has come a long way. We continue to look forward to a safer and more habitable living environment for our children and ourselves. Thank you for all you have done while working together with us to secure a brighter future for the residents of the Clinton Peabody,” said Vivian Williams, former Tenant Association Board President of Clinton Peabody.
In addition, the Saint Louis Housing Authority has agreed to upgrade their abilities to digitally accept work order requests as well as communicate with their tenants with timely and reactive procedures. During the course of the Attorney General’s investigation, tenants came forward to report that they had reported many of the infestation problems to the management company and Saint Louis Housing Authority but their requests for help went unanswered. The new computer program will help the Saint Louis Housing Authority management company respond to tenants’ work requests, give the tenants themselves the ability to track their work request, and then give feedback.
“This agreement pushes the Saint Louis Housing Authority forward into the twenty-first century of doing business,” said Schmitt. “Consumers not only expect safe and sanitary living conditions, but the ability to report problems 24 hours a day 7 days a week and then be able to track those requests until it is completed in a timely and competent manner.”
This settlement also includes a newly formed program, funded by McCormack Baron, in collaboration with the Deaconess Foundation, that will help tenants in the future at the Clinton Peabody. Through the settlement, $19,000 was donated from McCormack Baron to the Deaconess Foundation and a check was presented to the Deaconess Foundation’s Director of Advocacy Constance Rush by Attorney General Schmitt (picture of the meeting can be found below).
“The money given to the foundation will help empower people at the Clinton Peabody to find their voice and speak up to demand the change they deserve. The Attorney General’s Office always stands ready to amplify their voices in the future if the need ever arises again,” said Schmitt.
“Livable, affordable housing is critical to family flourishing and economic stability. Deaconess is pleased that the concerns of families living at Clinton Peabody have been heard. In the spirit of this settlement with the Attorney General, we look forward to working with them to sustain the civic engagement and power they’ve displayed in this moment,” said Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president & CEO of the Deaconess Foundation.
The Deaconess Foundation is a faith-based foundation that focuses on improving the health and well-being of the Metropolitan St. Louis community and its people. Deaconess Foundation invests in systemic change through community engagement, policy development and advocacy in pursuit of policy shifts that align with the Foundation’s policy priorities: early childhood education, justice and equity for youth, family economic mobility, and comprehensive healthcare. Deaconess’ efforts include: researching, developing and testing new policy ideas protecting effective policies, advancing public debate and will, equipping and positioning advocates and organizers, strengthening networks and alliances, and helping policymakers understand how policies are working or when they need innovation.