City, property owner making way on Elms Kitchenette Apartments cleanup

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – KSN News first told you last week about city leaders forming a task force to address a set of rundown apartments on south Broadway.

The owner was delivered a certified letter in August detailing bulky waste and trash issues to be addressed during a voluntary compliance period before legal recourse.

Since then, the Elms Kitchenette Apartments owner Dale Blubaugh says he’s added an extra trash day for his four tenants at the Elms, as well as provided a van and trailer to haul off bulky waste.

“I’ve got with them several times including yesterday again and told
them that they need to clean their yard up and so forth,” Blubaugh told KSN.

The voluntary compliance period is nearing an end. The certified letter is dated August 1, but Blubaugh said he received it August 24 after some health problems and the passing of a friend. He maintains he has worked diligently since then to clean up the apartments.

Leaders from the city of Wichita met again today to discuss the Elms and described a ‘layered approach’ to the process. Because the nuisance complaint came from a neighbor and not a tenant living in the Elms, city leaders have had to focus their efforts on the exterior of the apartments.

“We are very aware there are people living there and that is their homes. We would like to help them improve the conditions if at all possible,” neighborhood inspection administrator KaLyn Nethercot said.

Nethercot notes progress so far at the Elms.

Blubaugh has considered selling the Elms to focus on his other properties, but expressed concern for the tenants that have nowhere else to go. Along with paying for utilities for struggling tenants, he said he also will give people a place to stay if they agree to fix up a unit.

“I seem to have a name with a lot of people that are homeless so they
come to me and ask me if I have any places available, empty, and
sometimes I can help them out,” Blubaugh said.

Chris Labrum, director of the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, said he’s seen inside a few of the buildings and is concerned to get them up to proper living conditions.

“We’re working on it. We do what we can. We want to help,” Labrum said.

If you or someone you know is living in uninhabitable conditions, Kansas Legal Services provides resources here.

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