FOX 8 Defenders: After 3 murders in less than 24 hours, The Willows ramps up security
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Willows apartment complex in New Orleans East has stepped up security measures after residents told us they were terrified to live there.
Last week, three murders happened at the complex in less than 24 hours. Both shootings happened in the complex on Lawrence Road. The first happened around 11 p.m. Tuesday and left two people dead. The second happened around 1 p.m. Wednesday and left another person dead.
Off-duty police officers guard the front of The Willows at night, monitoring who comes and goes. It’s a small step forward for the people who say they live in fear.
While there are signs of progress, some say it’s not enough.
Workers fixed the problems in Cierra Dobard’s home that we first highlighted last month and there’s no longer a hole in Caroline Bailey’s bedroom.
“The fact that it took FOX 8, it took Helena Moreno, it took all of this just to get my wall fixed and just to get some resolution around this whole complex is totally ridiculous,” Dobard commented.
While these two residents have seen some improvements, others who live at The Willows say they’re still surrounded by filth.
Melvia Hodges first moved into the complex in March. She says just a few days after living there, the ceiling buckled and water came crashing into the kitchen. Hodges immediately moved out. But her belongings remained. Hodges says after three months, the unit still hasn’t been touched by management.
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A spokesperson for The Willows says Hodges’ old unit is scheduled to be worked on by a construction team.
At the beginning of June, Hodges says she moved out of her hotel room back to The Willows. She says management put her into a new unit, but even in that unit, the ceiling leaked.
“When I told them ‘hey the ceiling is leaking in the same place where you patched it up at,’ she told me just put a pot there,” Hodges says.
She also says there are plumbing issues clogging the tub and sinks that she’s reported to management.
The owner of this complex, Global Ministries Foundation, is a religious non-profit based out of Tennessee. The CEO, Dr. Richard Hamlet, an ordained minister, previously told us repairs are being made here, although labor shortages and Hurricane Ida setbacks complicated efforts.
For the people who live here, they say they still feel hopeless and just want a better quality of life.
“I’m still a bit anxious because I really don’t have any faith that they’re gonna move on again if it wasn’t for you all getting called out, this would not have been done,” Bailey says.
“Everybody should have a right to live comfortably and this is just ridiculous,” Hodges adds.
Next week, the owner of The Willows is scheduled to appear before a code enforcement hearing for the violations found during the agency’s surprise visit. Those violations include electrical system hazards, and problems with plumbing fixtures and heating facilities.
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