Rep. Loretta Sanchez vowed Saturday to ask the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate the financial activity of the property managers and owners of the Haster Gardens Apartments in Garden Grove.
Sanchez toured the 148-unit complex with state Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Garden Grove), Assemblyman Lou Correa (D-Anaheim), County Supervisor Charles V. Smith and Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater.
After viewing what she called the "deplorable conditions" of the complex, Sanchez questioned whether federal loans may have been misused in the maintenance of the property and the apartment units.
"I'm going to ask . . . at the federal level to come and investigate what is going on here," Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) told a crowd of more than 60 apartment tenants.
The officials gathered Saturday said they will form a task force as early as this week to examine the apartment complex's operation, including possible health and safety violations.
The city of Garden Grove already has filed a civil suit in Orange County Superior Court against the owners.
Six families living in the complex have also sued the owners and management company, claiming unsafe conditions.
Sanchez and the other officials were invited to tour the complex by Eviction Protectors, the company that is negotiating the dispute on behalf of the tenants.
Representatives for Equity Management 2000, the Torrance-based company that manages the Haster Gardens complex, could not be reached for comment Saturday.
But last week, officials there said they have invested more than $100,000 into apartment repairs since taking over the property in October.
Earlier this month, tenants initiated a rent strike, refusing to pay until living conditions improve, said Tomas Del Rio, who began to organize the tenants after his 8-month-old granddaughter became ill, a condition he believes is related to the problems in the apartment.
Most of the residents at the Haster Gardens complex say their apartments are saddled with leaking roofs, crumbling floors and mold along the ceilings and walls. Some of the children who live in the complex have asthma and some of the adults are reporting respiratory problems.
On Saturday, Sanchez suggested local medical centers voluntarily screen the children who live at Haster Gardens.
Late Saturday, the tenants caravaned to Equity Management 2000's office in Torrance and continued their protest.