Mesquite Apartment Tenants Swelter Without Air Conditioning

Some residents report feeling cool air blowing Tuesday morning

Cold air is now blowing to some of the families at a Mesquite apartment complex who have endured nearly a week without air conditioning as temperatures soared near 100 degrees.

Tuesday morning, some residents reported to NBC 5 that, though it wasn't full strength, they felt cool air blowing into their residences for the first time in a week.

"It feels like it's cooling off. I can tell that the air is blowing cold air now. For the first time. I put my hand up to the vent and felt cold air," said resident Gregory James.

City spokesman Wayne Larson couldn't verify Tuesday that the air conditioning had been fixed, but said a buildings supervisor was headed to the complex to check on the status of the repair.

NBC 5 learned Tuesday morning that some, but not all, of the families affected now have air conditioning after repairs were done overnight. When the remaining residents would have air conditioning has not been confirmed.

Even with cold air once again blowing, some residents of the Hillcrest Apartments expressed doubt that it will continue since temperatures were expected to climb near 100 Tuesday and since the air conditioning system has failed four times already this year.

The most recent outage affected 13 of the 51 families who call the community home and, they said, little was done to resolve the issue when they complained.

"You go up there and try to talk to them and it's nothing. You get nothing from them but attitude," said tenant Marcus Kelly. "There's nothing we can do about it but just sweat. You can't cook because it's too hot. Can't turn on the oven. You take a shower and before you leave the bathroom you're sweating again. It's like everything is uncomfortable."

Kelly came from Oklahoma to help his mother, Mabeline, who lives in the complex. She is diabetic.

"I'm about to pass out because it's too hot," said Mabeline Kelly, who added she's been unable to sleep in her hot apartment.

Tenant Cristin Watson said she is being evicted for complaining about the lack of cooling. Watson has two children, one of them just 4 weeks old.

"It's just something that should not happen. We shouldn't have to pay rent if we don't have A/C. And now they want us to leave. If I don't pay my rent they're going to put it on my record. And I don't know what to do. It's a losing situation for me and my family," Watson said.

A swimming pool at the complex that might help provide cooling is padlocked. Tenants have been told it is punishment for damage to a light fixture near the pool area.

"The kids would be able to enjoy the pool at least with the heat," said tenant Lissette Mancebo. She said her husband has a medical condition that requires cool rest. "I work almost 70 hours a week to support my husband and my family and what they tell us in the office is, well if you don't like it you can leave."

Rent payments at the complex include utility service. A central chiller provides cooling for the four buildings in the complex without air conditioning. Repairs to pipes connected to the chiller equipment were underway Monday.

Marcus Kelly said his mother's unit has inside equipment problems, too.

"People shouldn't have to live like that," he said. "We moved in this apartment and this was just like this when we moved in. It's crazy."

Mancebo and Watson said they'd been told deposits of $2,000 were required by the complex for residents wishing to use their own window air conditioning units.

Property records show the complex is owned by Summit Hillcrest Apartments LTD with an address matching that of Summit Asset Management Company in Montgomery, Alabama.

A manager answering the phone in the Mesquite complex office said to contact the Alabama company. A message left at the Alabama office was not returned.

Inspectors with the City of Mesquite have been working since Friday to see that the complex makes repairs according to Wayne Larson, a spokesman for the city.

Larson said the complex had provided box fans for residents but several residents said they purchased their own fans.

Tuesday morning NBC 5 learned the property management company has provided the residents with box fans, water and snacks and that some residents with special needs were provided window units.

A city of Mesquite community services employee was at the complex late Monday distributing fans.

And the city said if repairs are not made by 4 p.m. Tuesday they are going to start relocating some residents.

NBC 5's Amanda Guerra contributed to this report.

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