Residents of city-designated slum property, Woodbridge, trying to cope with broken A/C system again

PHOENIX - With temperatures in the Valley hitting record highs this week, some of the residents of the Woodbridge Apartment Complex near 19th and Glendale avenues are faced with the agony of trying to survive without air conditioning.

The city-designated slum property has a history of air conditioning problems that has been documented in court records and in interviews conducted by the ABC15 Investigators.

RELATED: Verdict expected on criminal charges for health and safety violations at Woodbridge Apartments

Anson Bates told the ABC15 Investigators, "My son has asthma and he gets heat rashes every single time this happens."

Bates described his utter frustration with the conditions at Woodbridge and what he says is the management's failure to address the problems. 

"This has been an occurrence every single month since we moved in," he said.

Deputy Director of Phoenix Department of Neighborhoods Tim Boling says the lack of air conditioning is a serious health risk to the elderly and to people with asthma but it is especially brutal for children.

He said, "It makes it really difficult for kids to sleep at night because the unit doesn’t cool off well enough to get a good night’s sleep. We heard from schools that the kids were having a problem in school because they weren’t getting a good night’s sleep."

Another resident told us his air conditioner actually blows hot air and when he complained to the property manager the response he got was less than helpful.

A building maintenance man told him they couldn't fix it as long as it was still blowing any air at all.

The problems with the air conditioning are not the only issues at Woodbridge according to court records and residents we spoke with.

City inspectors have cited the complex for hundreds of violations that include dilapidated staircases with rotting wood, broken balcony railings, broken windows, vacant unoccupied unlocked units that are easily accessible, exposed electrical wiring and a lack of potable water in some units.

And some of the people living at Woodbridge told us the complex is plagued with rats, roaches and bedbugs.

Resident Jessica Ozuna offered what she said was proof.

She said, "You can see I've got bites everywhere now because of the bedbugs."

The City of Phoenix has been in court trying to force the owner of the Woodbridge Apartment Complex to correct violations and provide humane housing conditions for years.

City officials say the problems they have identified jeopardize the health and safety of residents.

Tim Boling says he's troubled by the ongoing problems with air conditioning at Woodbridge that never seem to get resolved.

Boling said, "Our understanding is that it is not fully operational at this point."

"It is very frustrating because we would like to do more. We’d like to be able to fix it," Boling told the ABC15 Investigators.

Two years ago city officials took Woodbridge to civil court.

The city won a civil judgment against the owners of the apartment complex that included a $47,000 fine.

Late last year the city was back in court, but this time they took their case to criminal court.

The city filed 406 criminal counts alleging that conditions at Woodbridge jeopardized the health and safety of the families living there.

That case is now in the hands of Municipal Judge Lori Metcalf.

Her verdict is expected any day now and it could include fines of as much as 8 to 10 million dollars.

An attorney representing the owner of Woodbridge said they have challenged all the allegations in court and they don't believe the property is a slum.

He said the local property managers are responsive to the concerns of the tenants on a reasonable basis.

According to city officials a property manager told a city inspector today that the problem with the air conditioning was caused by a "slab leak". According to city officials the property manager told the inspector that they had contractors on site working to fix the leak and that once the leak is repaired they have air conditioning repairmen standing by to get it working.

According to city officials the property manager told the city inspector they hoped to have the a/c back on today.

But as of 9 p.m. Thursday, the ABC15 Investigators spoke with several residents at Woodbridge who still don't have air conditioning. 

Jessica Ozuna says every day she struggles with the challenges she's facing as a resident of the city's only designated slum property.

"We didn't have water all day yesterday. On day we've got to worry about if we're going to have a/c and the next day if we're going to have water."

"They want me to pay 600 dollars a month," Jessica's husband said, "I don't want to see my son suffer. He's 8 months old with asthma. I mean, c'mon now."

The ABC15 Investigators will stay on this story.

We will let you know if the air conditioning problem at Woodbridge gets fixed.




Print this article Back to Top