Troubleshooters: Concerns about Eastbrook apartments

In tonight’s Troubleshooters Report, we’re looking into viewer concerns about Eastbrook apartments.

The Wilmington Housing Authority purchased the Eastbrook apartment complex on Princess Place drive back in 2005, to provide affordable housing.

Instead, the apartments sit empty, because environmental experts say they aren’t safe to live in.

High levels of mold at Eastbrook prompted the authority to move residents out. City Councilman Ron Sparks inspected the property for the housing authority, and recommended they buy it.

The authority is suing his engineering firm for negligence, but we’ve now learned that even if the housing authority wins its case, Sparks does not have enough insurance to cover the damages.

“It’s a lot of money that the housing authority has lost,” Gary Shipman said.

Gary Shipman is the attorney representing the housing authority. He says the losses are well over a million dollars and that includes the money the authority borrowed to buy Eastbrook, as well as the loss of rental income.

“Certainly the revenue losses, those losses have had to be sustained or absorbed through other ways. So look, the taxpayers have a legitimate concern about the closure of Eastbrook,” Shipman said.

So how did this happen?

The WHA paid Ronald Sparks engineering firm about $10,000 to inspect the apartments. In his inspection report, Sparks noted moisture problems at Eastbrook, but said his overall opinion was that the property was in good condition, and even went on to recommend the purchase.

The housing authority relied on Sparks’s recommendation when they signed off on the purchase, but it didn’t take long before Eastbrook tenants started complaining about moisture problems.

“On the basis of the inspection that he conducted, he shouldn’t have recommended the purchase.” Shipman added.

Sparks’ contract with the housing authority required that he carry a million dollars worth of liability insurance just in case he missed something, but News Channel 3 has learned that Sparks did not hold up his end of the bargain.

He only has $500,000 worth of coverage, no where near the amount necessary to cover the authority’s losses.

Categories: New Hanover