Campus Habitat Shocks Carbondale

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Andy Shofstall

CARBONDALE -- There's more trouble surrounding Carbondale student housing manager Campus Habitat. The company has terminated its contract with one of its building owners. Now there's confusion about who's to blame for safety code violations.

The Campus Habitat managers are on vacation this week, the same week the company was to meet with Carbondale Board of Review to discuss the violations. Campus Habitat was a no show for that meeting, but we did speak very briefly with one of the managers on vacation. He says, as of late last week, the company no longer manages one of the buildings.

"They took down all the signs. So anything that says Campus Habitat, it's gone," says resident Chris Davis.

Residents of 820 West Freeman street no longer know whose building they're living in.

"No one is even in the office. No one's been in the office for like three weeks now," explains another resident, Ray Murphy.

The only sign left on this building says Forrest Hall. The old Campus Habitat signs are trash, literally. Residents say they weren't notified of the change.

"No, no, nothing. Us residents, nothing," says Davis. "There's no signs on the walls or doors."

For these residents, it's just the latest in a string of problems they've had with Campus Habitat since they've moved in; from moldy apartments, to lack of management.

Davis bought his own tub to catch dripping water, an issue he's been trying to get fixed for more than a year.

"When I came in here, they showed me the model room. There's a model room, and that room, it's all painted nice, modern. They got it all fixed up, it's clean. It's nothing like this room."

Now residents don't know who owns their building, and neither does the city.

"My understanding is they own the property. I hadn't heard that they were just a leasing manager. In fact, they had told us at the previous hearing that they actually owned the properties at 820 West Freeman and 600 West Freeman," explains Jamie Snyder, Carbondale's Assistant City Manager.

The recent turnover of this building is just the latest chapter in the saga between the city of Carbondale and Campus Habitat. Next week, the company is facing bench trials for simple violations that could result in thousands of dollars in fines. But the biggest problem now is who's responsible for the major safety violations in this building. And what will happen to the residents.

"At this point, we don't know who we're supposed to be talking with," says Snyder. "Several attempts have been made to speak with their attorney and get ahold of somebody with campus to let us know what's going on."

When we spoke with Campus Habitat on the phone, the regional manager said the building's owner would follow through with all the necessary repairs, but he couldn't tell News 3 who owned the building.

City officials say they need to get together and figure out who's responsible for what before they decide to cite Campus Habitat for any violations. But either way, Campus Habitat is set for trial a week from Wednesday for violations that happened earlier this year.
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