a 13-year resident of the public housing facility at 400
E Harrison St in Tampa (initially Methodist
Place, and now Vista 400),
feel that for my own well-being and the mental health & safety of others,
I need to disclose recent developments regarding JMG Realty’s management of
this HUD-subsidized facility.
Over the several previous years, I was
given the impression that owner-appointed management was there to collect
rent and provide services, and to otherwise make their presence as
transparent as possible. Lately, their inability to function has put severe
and perhaps life-threatening stress on the residents. Given our income level,
we have tried in every way to make our lives as comfortable and normal as
1. Elevators. SA 6/18/16 1200: While Elevator #2
had been down for a week, Elevator #1 was now stuck with two passengers on
the 2nd floor (not the least bit unforeseeable, given its double
load in traffic). Entrances to stairwells are also locked, leaving no way
for stranded residents to return to their homes, or obtain sustaining
medication. Seeking to get an elevator running, Fire Rescue was unable to
access JMG in any form for further information. Eventually the east
stairwell door was opened, and for the rest of the day elderly residents
got to climb the perhaps 13 floors to their homes.
I have to wonder why it takes a full week
to obtain equipment vital to an essential service. It seems to me, if you
want something bad enough you can get it delivered within 24 hours from
anywhere in the world. If one is willing to pay the freight. And why not?
2a. Computer Lab. Before JMG's involvement, Royal American gave us a Parentally Controlled
games-laden Windows 8, a magnet for the trivial use of our principle
Just after noon on Sunday 7/10/16, I
noticed that cursors had been removed from all the machines in our lab.
Next Monday morning I reported this vandalism to whoever was in the
Manager's office, and she seem shocked and amazed
to hear it. Needing as usual to use a system, I waited a few days for some
response, and there was none. While attending a church program in Britton
Plaza a week later, I chanced to purchase my own cursor at Radio Shack.
Which I used to successfully access the Internet on the last machine
downstairs known to be able to do it.
Sometime later, all the Windows 8
machines disappeared, to be replaced (around 8/20/16) by systems reverting
to Windows 7 Professional. No passwords or Parental Controls were involved,
and one could transfer data freely. I used my mouse casually and without
concern, leaving the one & only system I used each day as functionally
intact as when I found it. No one approached me or expressed any interest
in my activities. On SA 8/27/16 the vandals revealed themselves, wherein
the Computer Lab was locked down.
2b. Arts & Crafts. A small but inclusive group
of Art aficionados met there almost daily. Light refreshments were often
2c. Exercise area. TH 8/11/16. Noticed that except
for the TV on the wall & a chair in front of it, the room is
unfurnished. Since then, we have a highly visible recently purchased pool
table. No balls or questicks.
As of WE 8/31/16 JMG practice is to bar residents from the
preceding three resources (2a, 2b, 2c) at 7 PM each weekday evening, and
all day on weekends and holidays. Again, with no comment from management.
Room. Ordinarily a haven for our indoor
Latino males, its centerpiece is a large TV. This is now, as we understand
it, deliberately disconnected. Attempts to feed it signals from alternate
sources were severely reprimanded.
Meetings. WE 8/31/16 1900 v400-c.room: A&C
Residents Don & Frances alluded to the private meeting they (& a
few unnamed others) had at v510 this morning with v400 management. Their
complaints mentioned not only other things but other people. A Grateful
management incidentally announced that their crafts-lab area closes at 1900
hrs, every day. And to be sure to continue to put
their thoughts in writing.
Actually of course, JMG has plenty of
precedent for this type of information gathering. Think Inquisition. Also,
I am reminded of Gestapo tactics in occupied WWII Europe, where those
friendly to it among the subdued were encouraged to report those who were
not. Or prison camps, where captives were given extra rations for ratting
on their jail mates. Or like parochial grammar schools, where everyone is
punished if anyone fucks up.
Responding only verbally to inquiry about
JMGs own strange behavior, attendees seem to have been told just a few
members of their community (presumably not present) are causing problems,
and need to be controlled. Among these are those folk who use their own
mouse in the computer lab. Of course, by implication, when identified these
might not only reprimanded but removed. The latter in the present
circumstances meaning 'made homeless.'
Naturally, there is no public record of these proceedings.
Toward the end of 2016, residents began
to see some relaxation of resource deprivation. TVs were again operational,
computer use did not require signing out a mouse, and billiard
paraphernalia was available on the table (then discovering the room was too
small for east-west use of the cuestickes). Access to all of these being no
longer confined to weekdays, nine to five.
2017 saw terror redirected instead to
specific addictions: generally to those who use tobacco and specifically to
those who read books. To see how that works, we may turn to that year’s events.
Lockdowns may be normal to
folk in a prison situation, but seem highly inappropriate as
an apparatus for control in public housing. While inviting their confidential
sources to put their charges in writing, this management is notorious for
publishing nothing declaring their strange intent or apologizing for it, reserving the opportunity to tell a different story to
any person who asks about it. So we see in every way, instead of
encouraging community, JMG is intent on disrupting it.
As for collective
face-to-face contact with them, there has been only one occasion. We were
told that at noon on WE 8/17/16 (3 1/2 months after their arrival) there
would be an Ice Cream Social in the community Room: "Meet & Greet the new Vista 400 Management Team,"
"We have invited Tampa Police Officers to
join us ..." Now as there are nominally 200 residents at Vista,
all such engagements by previous management were done in two sittings - half
the building at a time, divided as to upper and lower floors. Added to the
improbability of this meeting's serious intent, only one elevator was
available to transport all these people to and from the big meeting. I wasn't
I believe that evaluation of their
performance is my decision, not theirs. If I am correct, then there is no
place here for what is curiously called a “Community
Manager” with the peculiar mindset of Candice
Burns (?). In offering my analysis of our computer situation, I rely
on my 50 years of occasional experience in the computer industry. Starting
with my first programming assignments for money, as a member of EDP staff at
the University of Chicago in 1966,
continuing as System & Programming Manager at Loyola
in 1968, as a Systems Engineer with San Antonio's Datapoint
in 1976, and as an SPA with the Los Angeles
Community College District in the early '80's. I have recently
(2009-2013) refreshed that experience with coursework at HCC.
The other side of the door at the top of this page has
its own story to tell. Declared inoperable the weekend of 9/3, seven days
later residents still needed to walk a half a block each way to get to the other
side of it – coming and going – to get to their cars, or to obtain the
necessities of life from Annointed Word twice a week.
We also must consider
the inconvenience involved for those needing to dispose of their bedbug
infested furniture & other ruined household artifacts. This is what
back-of-the-house looked like around noon, Saturday 9/10/2016.
Rights & Responsibilities
119: Additional Assistance. If you need help or
more information, you may contact: HUD's Office
of Inspector General Hot Line at 1-800-347-3735 to report fraud,
waste, or mismanagement. We also have http://www.hud.gov: add
/local/index.cfm to access our local HUD Field Office. Of course, having
filed one before, I know how that works. Management will be invited to respond
to a HUD representative privately. HUD will find their vindicating response,
which I will not be allowed to see or challenge, perfectly acceptable.
Residents are also considering a class-action solution via Bay Area Legal Services.
JMG Realty inc
may be found locally in the Cypress Point Office Park, 10014 W DMH #222, Tampa FL