Sunday, July 13, 2014

HUD still deciding on what to release of Sherman Hills plan

Complex owner objected to public release of certain information

February 12. 2014 10:33PM

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WILKES-BARRE — Sherman Hills Realty has objected to the public release of certain information in its 150-page corrective action plan for the troubled 344-unit Sherman Hills apartment complex.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is in the process of making a final determination on the disclosure of the plan. HUD has targeted March 6 to release a redacted plan submitted by the realty company on Dec. 5, according to an email from Sheppard V. Williams of HUD’s Philadelphia office.

The Times Leader filed a request for the plan under the Freedom of Information Act in December. Under FOIA, Sherman Hills Realty has the option to object to public release.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, said in December that Park Management, which manages the apartment complex, suggested hiring contracted armed guards, adding surveillance cameras and installing entrance gates and fencing around the 22-acre property off Coal and North Empire streets.

Cartwright and local community leaders formed the Sherman Hills Task Force in December after a critical HUD inspection report found numerous physical and financial problems at the apartment complex, such as inoperable surveillance cameras, broken doors and windows and inadequate lighting.

HUD inspected the complex after two girls were shot in August. Since then, a woman was fatally shot within the complex and there have been drug arrests and robberies. Several of the city’s 13 homicides in 2013 occurred near the complex.

HUD classified management at the apartment complex as “unsatisfactory.”

The task force is expected to meet for the second time at 9 a.m. on Feb. 20 at the Luzerne County Courthouse. The meeting will be open to the public.

“Our main focus is to begin the public conversation about the multi-faceted set of problems concerning Sherman Hills,” Cartwright stated in a news release. “I look forward to hearing many different ideas to address the issues facing the complex.”

The hearing will include witnesses from housing-focused entities, a former Sherman Hills tenant and local nonprofit service providers.

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