- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston officials say they’re helping to find other housing for tenants of an apartment complex notorious for run-down conditions, sewage backs-ups and an absentee owner who has repeatedly failed to address problems.

A state district judge on Friday appointed an outside party to oversee the Crestmont Village Apartments, the Houston Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1WalC95 ).

Mayor Annise Parker said the city will ensure that the power is kept on as other housing is found for tenants. About 250 residents have been relocated but some could not because of criminal records or limited income. About 100 people live at Crestmont now.

The complex has been bedeviled by myriad code violations, sewage that backs up into apartments and other problems like units that have front doors off their hinges.

The New Jersey owner, Abraham Vaknin, is facing lawsuits and owes more than $550,000 in power bills. Champion Energy Services claims in a lawsuit against Vaknin that he stopped making payments shortly after agreeing to a settlement.

The city says Vaknin also owes about $313,000 in unpaid water bills. It sued him for not paying fines imposed because of repeated violations of city codes. The summary of the violations goes on for 28 pages.

The Chronicle couldn’t reach Vaknin for comment and The Associated Press couldn’t find a listed phone number for him.

Community activist Sandra Hines has been taking down the names and numbers of residents who still don’t have power, handing out water and food and coordinating with the city to hand out vouchers.

“The little children were running through the sewage with socks, barefoot and with shoes,” Hines told the Chronicle. “When they flush their bathrooms, sewage goes up their walls from the toilet to the ceiling. It comes out over their tub. These people have little babies. They’re paying good money - $500, $750, $850 - to be treated like this.”

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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