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Apartments Are Sued

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For Anita Lee the safety of her five month old son is top priority. It's why she says at the end of her lease she will be moving out of The Mint apartment complex.

"Our third week here there was a shooting and you could hear it from my apartment," said Lee.

She says fights, and burglaries are a common occurrence. Houston Police records show there were more than 2000 calls for service in the last two years. That's close to three calls a day.

Her neighbor Kevin Lamar agrees, but he says in a low income neighborhood that's just a way of life.

"That's normal in a low income area, you expect that," he said. But the Harris County Attorney doesn't agree. It's why this week his office filed a lawsuit against the owners of the complex.

First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard says HPD is spending too much time responding to calls there.

"That is an excessive number and that would indicate that the owner of the apartment complex have not done enough to fight crime and take care of the people who live there," said Soard.

The county wants the complex to build a fence, hire more security guards, add surveillance cameras.

"They can do with additional lighting, they can do a lot just with keeping the shrubbery trimmed and other things just to reduce the crime," he said.

They also want the complex to screen future residents.

Lamar says the apartment complex offers low income families a place to live, and forcing owners to make improvements could drive up rent prices.

Anthony Domenech is a resident and works at the resource center on the property.

"There are a lot of hardworking residents here they are not the ones causing the majority of the problems," said Domenech.

He says to protect them the property has been trying to work with the city to gain the right of way and install a fence and speed bumps. To Lee and her family it's a small step in the right direction.

"Anything is better than nothing, it's a start, and it's not going to happen overnight so it's going to take a while," she said.

The lawsuit is part of a joint effort between the County and the International Management District to sue properties they say harbor criminal activity or are a nuisance.

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