Tags : housing

Complaints: A road map for killer investigations

Jill Riepenhoff, a projects reporter at The Columbus Dispatch, and Tisha Thompson, an investigative reporter for WRC-Washington D.C., use consumer and professional complaints to fuel their investigations. In these audio clips the two reporters offer advice on where to look for complaints and how to use them.

In Columbus, Ohio, landlords allowing homes to become rundown is a major problem. Riepenhoff used complaints from homeowners and court documents to create The Columbus Dispatch’s “Legacy of Neglect” series.

She found the subject of her story, chronic offender Joseph S. Alaura, from court documents. He had gone to court multiple ...

Read more ...

Records shed light on lax landlords, broken housing code system

The deaths of a young couple and a 4-year-old child in a Christmas Eve fire exposed significant problems with landlords renting dilapidated and dangerous properties in Columbus, Ohio.

In the immediate aftermath, city officials – acting on public outcry – made promises to fix its broken housing code system. But when the outcry died, so did those promises, prompting The Columbus Dispatch’s “Legacy of Neglect” series.

The four-day series produced such overwhelming results that the mayor, other city officials and their housing code enforcement unit immediately declared war on slumlords who, our reporting found, regularly rented houses with unsafe electrical systems ...

Read more ...

Behind the Story: Tackling the unusual, problematic 'contract for deed' housing deal

Minneapolis Star Tribune photo
Ron Folger of Minneapolis lost his rental license last year city and began selling properties to low-income families on a plan known as a contract-for-deed transaction.

In January, Jeffrey Meitrodt, Investigations Editor at the Star Tribune, reported on problematic contract-for-deed sales of homes in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The sales are frequently used to sell homes to low-income buyers who have been unable to secure financing from a bank.  Since 2007, Minneapolis and St. Paul have seen a more than 50 percent increase in the number of contract-for-deed sales of property.  These homes may have existing ...

Read more ...

GIS tracks housing health

This project started with a call from a single mother of two teenagers who asked me to take a look at the rat-hole apartment where they lived in an old house that had been carved up into several apartments.

It was horrible. There was a foot of snow on the ground; the furnace had never worked; the water pipes had broken; the living room ceiling had collapsed as a result. The apartment was uninhabitable.  

The management company had washed its hands and told her to talk to the owner. But that person turned out not to be the real owner ...

Read more ...