Spratley House, Ashe Manor earn high marks on federal housing inspection

Seen is the exterior of public housing complex Spratley House located in downtown Newport News on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. (Aileen Devlin/Daily Press)

Two public housing complexes designed for the elderly have again passed a federal inspection with mostly flying colors.

However, the latest scores for Spratley House, 651 25th St., and Wilbert & Effie Ashe Manor Apartments, 900 36th St., were lower than when both were last inspected in 2014.

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Both Spratley House and Ashe Manor, inspected last month, have 50 one- and two-unit bed apartments for the elderly. Apartments are designed for people who need special accommodations and have special cords that can be used to call for emergency medical help.

Spratley House earned 94 points out of 100, and Ashe Manor got 87 points, according to scores the Daily Press obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency that does these specific physical inspections.

A passing score is 60.

Both properties are relatively new and have brick exteriors, so they tend to score well, said Karen Wilds, executive director of Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which oversees the city’s public housing properties.

Both earned 98s during their inspections in the fall of 2014. Properties that score high don’t require inspections for three years.

Spratley is a five-story brick building with a green roof. Its largest deduction of two points came from a broken bulb in the back-up power system in a community room, according to the inspection report that NNRHA provided.

“We were a little disappointed because we had checked the property a week before,” Wilds said.

Spratley lost fractions of points for damaged walls inside the common area and scattered issues in individual units, like ceiling damage, issues with appliances and doors. Inspectors docked points for broken call-for-aid systems in three apartments

Ashe Manor has a mixed-material facade with brick, standing four stories tall. It lost seven points, its largest deduction, for exit signs that didn’t light up on the first floor at a back entrance and a hallway. It lost a couple points for a broken bulb on the fourth floor.

Small fractions of points were deducted for problems inside individual apartments, including peeling paint, slow bathroom drains and a few damaged doors.

Matters that are considered health and safety hazards, like the inoperable call-for-aid systems, are supposed to be fixed within 24 hours, Wilds said.

Noting the score difference from 2014, Wilds said that the inoperable bulbs are weighted heavily and can cause a significant dock in points. Different inspectors from year to year could also have a different focus, she said.

A few residents sat outside Spratley House on Friday afternoon in the sweltering heat to get some air. Jerry Darden, who has lived there since he stopped living with one of his sisters last August, called it the “best life I have ever lived.”

Darden said he has been sober from alcohol and drug abuse for more than two decades and had to depend on family or neighbors for help. Finally, a year ago, he was approved to live at Spratley House, he said.

Now he lives on his own and is blocks away from Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He likes Spratley because the residents support each other — another one of his sisters lives a floor above him — and his apartment is kept in good condition, he said.

“I tell you, ain’t nothin’ like a peace of mind,” Darden said.

Jacqueline Walker, also a Spratley resident, said she’s heard that Spratley House may get renovated, but said she thinks her apartment is “beautiful” enough.

The housing authority is trying to renovate Spratley House through a HUD program called Rental Assistance Demonstration, which allows housing authorities to sell low-income tax credits and get private investment to finance their work.

Lassiter Courts, 811—C Taylor Avenue, is scheduled for an inspection in August. This complex failed its inspection last summer with a score of 55.

Inspections are scheduled in September for Pinecroft Apartments, 75 Wellesley Dr., Marshall Courts, 741 34th St., Ridley Place, 811 C Taylor Ave. and Aqueduct Apartments, 13244 Aqueduct Dr.

Ridley Place failed its inspection last summer with a score of 52 after passing its 2015 inspection. Marshall Courts passed in 2016 with a 66.

Aqueduct Apartments’ score of 39 last summer raised a red flag for HUD’s Richmond office,federal officials told the Daily Press last year. They made a visit to the property in the fall, and by then, the housing authority was doing repairs. Officials said they were satisfied because things appeared in better condition.

Read about Aqueduct’s failed inspection last year »

Inspectors last summer highlighted issues within Aqueduct’s individual units, like damaged appliances, signs of mold or mildew and bug infestations. Points were also docked for cracked sidewalks and exterior issues.

The housing authority has since been improving erosion around the buildings, overgrown vegetation near fences, repairing sidewalks, repairing refrigerator gaskets and replacing outlet covers in apartments, according to Teresa Bennet, executive assistant for the housing authority.

Amin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4890 or on Twitter at @reemadamin.

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