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December 22, 2014

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Resident’s death renews criticism of conditions at NLV senior apartments

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Brian Nordli

A warning sign from the coroner’s office prohibits people from entering an apartment at the Buena Vista Springs complex Thursday, May 15, 2014.

Updated Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 4:09 p.m.

Buena Vista Springs Complex

Herman Jackson Jr., a 14 year resident of the Buena Vista Springs complex, points at a broken emergency pull cord alarm system in his apartment Thusday, May 15, 2014. Launch slideshow »

An aide to Gov. Brian Sandoval says the state is asking the IRS to revoke tax credits to investors behind a North Las Vegas apartment complex for low-income senior citizens that came under renewed criticism this week with the discovery of a resident's death.

Tyler Klimas, Sandoval's press secretary, said state and local officials have been working for years to get owners to correct deficiencies at the Buena Vista Springs Apartments.

"The state has notified the IRS of the history of problems and today asked the IRS to withdraw the investors’ tax exempt credits due to a long pattern of problems at the project," Klimas said.

Klimas' announcement comes on the heels of a tour and news conference this morning attended by Congressman Steve Horsford, Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly and North Las Vegas Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown at Buena Vista Springs, 2510 Morton Ave., near North Martin Luther King Boulevard and West Carey Avenue.

Inside the Bapartments, two residents lead a tour of TV cameras and the government officials down a second-floor hallway that lacks air conditioning.

The residents rattled off problems within the complex. Among them: neglect from property staff, lack of air conditioning at the time and, most importantly, broken emergency pull cords.

The tour paused at apartment 209, where a white Clark County Coroner’s Office sticker sealed the blue door shut.

The resident, identified as 64-year-old Edward L. Davidson, was found dead Wednesday inside the apartment. Another resident, Alma Bennett-Evans, said the discovery was made after she pleaded multiple times with the Buena Vista staff to do a welfare check in apartment 209.

Davidson died from an arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, coroner’s officials said. Atherosclerosis -- or hardening of the arteries -- can cause heart attacks and stroke,

It is unknown how long ago Davidson died, but according to residents, the complex’s emergency pull cords still don’t work.

“This has been one of my arguments in the last two years – get the pull cords fixed,” Bennett-Evans said. “That’s our only means of getting help.”

The pull cords are devices designed to alert caregivers when residents encounter a problem, such as a fall. By pulling the cord, someone will be notified and come to help.

A month ago, Horsford, Weekly and Pamela Goynes-Brown toured the complex with Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Housing Division officials.

Mayor John Lee last year led a tour of community leaders to view the run-down conditions. Multiple media reports have detailed problems that also have included, cock roach infestations and mold.

When Horsford, Weekly and Goynes-Borwn visited a month ago, Davidson was there. He was so upset about the conditions, Goynes-Brown said she had to take him aside to chat.

At the time, Horsford, Weekly and Goynes-Brown urged state officials to revoke tax credits given to Florida-based Franklin Capital Group, a limited partner in the property's ownership– unless the issues were fixed immediately.

Davidson is now dead, and the problems remain. Horsford, Weekly and Goynes-Brown returned Thursday for a news conference to again press state officials.

“The state has responsibility,” Horsford said. “It’s their agency, they approved the tax credits. All of us were here a month ago with the (state housing division officials) and they said this would be addressed. These people can’t wait another day.”

"The state, county and city sent a joint demand letter May 8 to the investors and general partner asking them to fix all outstanding issues and remove the out-of-state owner and replace him with a responsible Las Vegas developer … It is clear that the owners and property managers have failed to protect the residents of Buena Vista Springs III," Klimas said this afternoon.

Florida-based Franklin Capital Group, recipient of the tax credit, said through a spokeswoman it had invested in a local owner as a limited partner but had no legal power to fix the complex’s problems and was not involved in the current issue. Franklin Capital had no further comment.

Resident Herman Jackson Jr. was exasperated with the complex’s conditions. He’s lived there for 14 years, and watched maintenance requests go unresolved.

“It don’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they keep sweeping (the issues) under the rug,” Jackson said.

Bennett-Evans said the lack of security and maintenance neglect were secondary to the broken pull cords.

“If I have a heart attack at 2 a.m., I’ll be dead,” she said.

After the tour, housing division compliance audit investigator Francine Lebrato arrived to attempt to get the broken pull cords fixed.

“Unfortunately, it’s just one of these situations by legal document (the owners) are still in compliance,” Weekly said. “It’s just real unfortunate the bare minimum is being done and yet there are so many violations on them.”

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