75 SOUTH (A Mini Series) Part 2

I had worked for Silver Streak Properties for almost 7 years.  During that time, Linda, the district property manager had mentored me from day one on everything from choosing the maintenance staff, working on positive relations with our tenants and most of all, the most important thing in property management land – maintaining occupancy levels at 85%.  That was the main focus and everybody who worked at the property knew it.  Maintaining the property was just as important, that came without saying.  The maintenance staff knew how I rolled so they got on board and rolled right with me.  I made sure that myself or Artesia, my assistant  entered all incoming maintenance orders from tenants in the system while they were yelling, screaming and sometimes whispering their problem over the phone.  Tenants would be complaining about this don’t work, that thing got broke, the dumb ass maintenance man didn’t fix it right – and one of us would be typing and talking at the same time.  To me, a happy tenant paid their rent, paid it on time and renewed their lease more often than not.

Paradise was a section 8 / tax credit property with 250 one and two bedroom apartments for senior citizens age 62 and above, and a small percentage of disabled individuals under 62.  The property on the east side of Detroit also had 50 two and three bedroom townhomes for low income families.  There was another world of property management where I started at in Southfield as a leasing agent at the Center Apartments.  This world of property management was more conventional, also known as market rate.  Unlike section 8 or tax credit where rent is subsidized based on your income,  usually about 30% – market rate is whatever the market will bear in the area that your property is located.  Needless to say, the Center in Southfield was a much easier property to manage.  Prospective tenants who applied at the Center Apartments knew the cost and if they made a certain amount of money and could afford the market rate – that’s what they would pay.  I enjoyed working there but after a couple of years I felt like a needed a challenge and stepped into another  zone of property management.

Linda had given me a lot to think about concerning Mr. Silver and his proposition.  Before leaving my office, she left a package concerning the property in Somewhere Alabama and what they wanted me to do if I decided to go 75 South.  I had asked Linda about my staff and she ensured me that they would all receive severance packages and would be invited to apply at another property owned or managed by Silver Streak.  That gave me comfort because my staff was like family to me.  As I sat there at my desk alone thinking about my time at Paradise, many things came to mind.  I thought about the long hours, continuous arguments with a few irate tenants, the sometimes downright dangerous positions you could find yourself in, unsavory people that would be buzzed in by lonely senior citizens – some they knew, some they didn’t, just because somebody rang their bell.  Some of the bell rangers were drug dealers, thieves, and ungrateful children or grandchildren showing up on the 1st and 3rd of the month to help themselves to their loved ones SSI or Social Security checks.  I also thought about the good things that I witnessed – senior citizens interacting with each other on their own terms and preferences, this was an Independent Living community and you lived your life the way you wanted to live.  If you wanted to come down to socialize, attend a talk that someone was giving, join the coffee crew for conversation or just see what was going on – that’s what you did.  You were an older adult – not a child, and the seniors at Paradise flourished.  I also admired how a lot of the families in the townhomes took pride in where they lived.  They doted on their children, kept their yards clean and for the most part, reported anything unsavory that might be going on to management so it wouldn’t get out of hand, and, contrary to perception, most people in subsidized housing have jobs – they may not be high paying jobs but, the majority at Paradise had some type of job and they took pride in that.

About 2 years ago, I started having panic attacks.  I didn’t know where they were coming from and I didn’t realize what it was the first time it happened.  I was in bed asleep and all of a sudden I was forced to wake up.  It appeared to me I was having problems breathing and jumped up with a racing heart along with a sense of panic and confusion.  It was after 12 midnight and it took about 15 minutes to get myself together.  I called a friend and talked to her on the phone until the panic wore off.  I told myself it was bad dreams, the constant noise of sirens in my east side Alter Road neighborhood near Grosse Pointe, working too hard to keep occupancy levels high and so on and so on – I didn’t understand why it was happening.  Now, I was feeling that panic again, but, this time I knew where it was coming from.  Linda.  Linda and Mr. Silver were disrupting my world by selling Paradise and sending me on some down south assignment that I didn’t ask for.  I had a lot to think about and I’m glad they had the decency to give me two weeks to decide.  In the meantime, after the end of the week, I’m officially on vacation.

To be continued on Friday 1/15/2016

B. Knox


75 South




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