(CBS) — A young boy fell out of a sixth-floor window and survived.
CBS 2’s Dave Savini exposes code violations at the residential complex where he lived, which received millions of government dollars for rehabilitation and repair.
Four-year-old Kenneth Wells was critically injured in June. His legs, pelvis and spine were crushed. It was a terrifying scene for his mother, Markita Wells, who recalls blood running from the boy’s nose.
Leading to the devastating fall were these factors: a protruding outlet the child was able to step on and a window that opened wide.
The family lives in Parkway Gardens, where First Lady Michelle Obama lived as a child. According to HUD, a company called Related Midwest bought the complex in 2011, and received nearly $10 million in federal tax credits and $65 million in tax-exempt bond revenue, not to mention the millions they get annually in rent checks from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Wells’ attorney, Stephan Blandin, wants to know what the company does with the money.
“There are safety regulation violations everywhere, that are exposing all these kids to all kinds of hazards,” Blandin says.
In 2015, every one of the 16 Parkway Gardens high-rise buildings inspected by the city failed for code violations. Problems included torn or missing window screens and mice, roach, bedbug and rat infestations. Other problems included missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, along with fire extinguishers missing from hallways. There were exposed wires and elevator issues, too.
Wells’ building was inspected twice shortly after her son fell and racked up 20 violations. But none of those were window-related, even though CBS 2 found missing-screen violations in her unit and throughout the complex on days before and after the city’s last inspection.
“Your tax dollars are being paid to subsidize a for-profit company that is having people live in Third World standards, that’s the reality,” Blandin says.
“I think that children should be safe in their homes,” Markita Wells says. “I don’t want anyone to endure the pain I did.”
Her son fell three weeks after the city posted a bulletin calling it “critical” that building owners install proper screens and guards limiting window openings to four inches. Wells, who filed a lawsuit Monday, took care of her window problem – using a broomstick to keep it closed.
Since 2013, there were 47 failed inspections at Parkway Gardens. CBS 2 is told Related Management receives about $10.4 million a year in government money for rent.
Parkway Gardens management says windows and screens are code-compliant and says Kenneth’ Wells’ case is unfortunate. They also say significant investments were made in this complex since they purchased it in great disrepair.
Markita Wells hopes to move her family from the complex.