A welding contractor told the Houston Chronicle that he lost his business and had to sell nearly everything he owned after a company failed to pay him for repairs he made to a federally contracted property in Galveston.
Michael Bell, 40, did various repairs this summer on Sandpiper Cove Apartments, where rent is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ohio-based Millennia Housing Management, which oversees more than 250 properties, hired Bell to address building code issues concerning gates, guardrails, walkways and more, the newspaper reported.
Sandpiper Cove failed a federal inspection in May, prompting the repair work. But Bell said he saw other serious safety problems at the apartment complex that weren’t being addressed, including rotted supports on several staircases. “It wasn’t safe at all,” he told the Chronicle.
Tenants have complained for years that conditions at the complex – the only HUD-subsidized development in Galveston — are unlivable, the newspaper reported.
Bell said he charged Millennia $8,500 for his work there, with the stipulation he would need the payment once he put his own money into the job. Three months after beginning work, Bell had spent $6,375. He had to sell some of his possessions and change residences so he could afford the outlay, he told the Chronicle.
“I could pay my help or pay my bills,” he told the newspaper. “So I lost my business and my home.”
Bell said a Millennia official emailed him in late June that payment could not be made before mid-July, but he is still waiting on the money. His contract with Millennia states he would be paid for completed services within 30 days after receipt of the invoice.
The company ignored repeated requests for comment from the Chronicle.