• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Two sides

Is the new Wayne Township trustee a hero, looking out for both the poor and the taxpayer?

Wayne Township's new trustee, Rick Stevenson, said taxpayers are saving money now that the shelter program has been relocated.

Last week when Stevenson took office, families were living in deplorable conditions at Centlivre Village Apartments, where taxpayers were helping to pay the rent.  There were roaches, dead mice, crumbling ceilings, and mouse drops in some of the apartments the township rented  there and placed needy families in for its shelter program.

Or is he a publicity hog who is actually making it harder for those trying to help the poor?

The six apartments at Centlivre are under the care of the Outreach Division of the trustee's office. The only thing Centlivre is responsible for is general maintenance when they are called by a representative of that Outreach Division. Because of confidentiality issues, the management of Centlivre just leases the apartments to the trustee's office, which is responsible for the in and out condition of each apartment and for the tenants they place there.

Before the trustee's office took over these six apartments, the staff inspected and approved each one. Therefore, it seems that the “deplorable” conditions are a result of someone dropping the ball at the trustee's office and of a knee-jerk reaction to the way the underserved are treated.

Sadly, the apartment that was featured in the news was an apartment on the waiting list to be renovated, has not been recently inhabited and is not even one of the six paid for by the trustee's office.

Withoug more information, I don't know. But there is usually more than one side to every story, and it's dangerous to just take one person's version of things at face value without doing any checking, even an elected official's. Yes, I've been guilty of this sin. Most of us in this business have been at one time or another.

Posted in: Our town


Kevin Knuth
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:07am

I really only know what I have seen in news reports. But this is part of the report from Indiana's NewsCenter:

Schomburg says his staff complained to management at Centlivre multiple times. And at one point, the program moved buildings because the apartments were unlivable. Schomburg also argues the most deplorable apartment, shown here, was never occupied by staff or families.

When asked why he never reported the apartment complex to Code Enforcement, Schomburg says it's because he was planning to move the families anyway, and he "didn't want to cause a catastrophe in the community."

Matt Schomburg/Former Wayne Township Trustee: "We didn't because it's a slippery slope. If they would have condemned the whole building and you would have a lot of people who would be homeless. And, the situation here in the community couldn't handle that many homeless people at once."


This seems to imply that Matt Schomburg DISAGREES with Lynne Doctor, who wrote the second quote you used.

It also points out that Schomburg KNEW the apartments were a problem and that they had been previosly.

I am insensed that Schomburg did not report the buildings to code enforcement. And using the excuse that he did not want to see those people homeless is not relevant. If a building is not up to code, it is not safe. If it is not safe, it prevents a hazard to everyone living there.

tim zank
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:18am

Yeah, but Kevin....If he had reported it to code enforcement, and the entire building was evacuated and all those people became suddenly homeless, your ACDP weblog headline would be "Republican Trustee Forces The Poor Into Streets". Maybe, just maybe he was doing what was best for the "underserved" and not what was best for his political party.

You are becoming very adept at grabbing headlines at any cost.

Steve Towsley
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:38am

If the apartment shown in the video clip to report this story on television was NOT one of those paid for and used by trustee's office clients, I'd like to know why the he11 the TV crew shot it for this story.

That bit of freewheeling costs them the credibility of their entire news report in my view.

The trustee's apartments were doubtless below code also -- but how are we supposed to judge the merits of anyone's case if the TV stations are willing to air, and ARE STILL airing, sensational but totally irrelevant video clips?

And people wonder why Fort Wayne has trouble developing a national business reputation... Could it have anything to do with the fact that NE Indiana's reputation is made at least in part by this kind of sloppy work, in too many companies where management shrugs it off as business as usual?

I hope I've misunderstood the details of that video's apparent non-relationship to the Wayne trustee's Outreach tenants, because if not, I'd like not to see that tape ever again over this story. Maybe they should go back and shoot the right apartments, if it's not asking too much.

Kevin Knuth
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:49am


Matt Schomburg swore an oath to uphold the laws of the State and of the County.

If he KNEW the building had problems he is obligated to report that.

When buildings fail to meet code they, in general, continue to deteriorate. Soon, instead of mold and rats, you have faulty wiring. Would you prefer a headline that reads "Hundreds burned alive in fire at Centlivre"? I hope not.

tim zank
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:06am

Kevin, Nice try, better save some gas for the next republican fire, this one appears to be going out.

Jeff Pruitt
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:07am

If there were roaches and mice in one apartment then it wouldn't be long before they were in EVERY apartment.

Does anyone truly disagree w/ moving those people out? This is just a sad example of petty politics - can't give the other guy an ounce of credit even when he deserves it...

Richard Dolsen Sr.
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:08am

I would be willing to bet that on any given day hundreds of apartments throughout the city could be condemned for one reason or another. That would indeed leave many homeless. Matt Schomburg should have reported this. Do the people living in these apartments have any responsibility for keeping their homes livable ? I think they do. Do we taxpayers really have to provide a place to live and keep it cleaned and sanitary on a daily basis also ? The news story gave the impression that the trustee's office forced the tenants to live in this squalor and may have even created it. Thats not fair.

Fri, 01/12/2007 - 10:54am

I agree with Leo-trustee's office didn't do their job. Any home or apartment will get roaches and mice if it is not kept clean. Sounds to me like an excuse for something else. Very good point Richard. When are we going to start making the poor take some sort of responsiblity for themselves?? It is not expensive to be clean.

Bill Hennessey
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:07pm

My first ismpression was that the new trustee was trying to grandstand and give a well-decorated servant like schomburg a black eye so that he won't have to lose to him in a re-election. Without this incident I dont think he could beat schomburg a second time.

Steve Towsley
Sat, 01/13/2007 - 10:52am

If the incoming trustee is grandstanding he should suffer for it, but an otherwise compelling case is usually easy to throw out, politically and/or legally, if news reports try the case in the court of public opinion with false evidence. The notion that it's good enough to show the wrong tape and suggest that if there are rats here, there will soon be rats there, is third rate effort, and any attorney or other official will salivate to hear that's the "quality" of case being made against them.

We shouldn't be subsidizing slobs either though. No self-respecting apartment manager around here is going to permit a tenant to ruin a property and bolt when there's nothing left. The responsible action for the landlord is to evict the irresponsible tenant. I don't see why a trustee's program should respond any differently, mental issues or no mental issues. There are ways to solve those problems without wrecking property -- unless maybe the landlord chooses NOT to make waves because they're charging the government two or three times their normal rent price for apartments contracted to the government for public assistance.

I hear the trustee is paying $1200 a month for some of these poverty relief apartments.

Even with utilities included, $1200 a month buys a lot of apartment in Fort Wayne. Such prices, if true, would present a hefty incentive to let residents stay and trash your place, while you keep as much of the $1200 as you can squeeze out.

That scenario is speculation, but the program got into this mess SOMEHOW and we should know more about the causes if we expect to see any change.

Alexander Winston
Sat, 01/20/2007 - 10:54am

I actually have some knowledge of what is going on there knowing some of the people who still live and work there.

The place is not the rodent and bug filled kingdom that the news has portrayed it as. Shame on the Trustee for using their own offices which have deadbolt locks which Centlivre does not have keys for as one of the places that they found a mouse. (That was the one by the surge protector.) The other unit apparently was an empty apartment.

The Trustee's Office portrayed their clients as poor and helpless. I have met some of their "clients" in my work. A percentage of them are this city's prostitutes and drug dealers. If you want proof compare their client list with the court dockets for the last two years. You will be suprised. I am sure that Centlivre is more than happy to see this program go. I am nervous as a homeowner in Forest Park that the Trustee moved project into my area.

The Trustee's Office destroyed their furniture that they were putting in the trash as they moved out of Centlivre because some of the poor immigrant families were taking it from the dumpster. I thought the mission of the Outreach office was to help those who need it most, not to spit in their faces because they speak a different language.

Neighborhood code did a head to toe inspection on the property and found only "minor violations" I am quite certain if they walked into any apartment community they would find minor violations, You should see Code's actual book. There is a reason that people in my office call them the "grass police". I have difficulties believing Schomburg unless Centlivre did a massive cleanup before neighborhood code came in.

As for the rent, 21 reported that the township was paying $425.00 a month for 5 apartmnents and were getting a 6th for free.

Shame on the Trustee for going to the press before he went to management to talk about the issue. Several people has stated the first time Township's Office acknowledged Centlivre Managment was on January 11th one week after he had badmouthed them consistantly in the press.

As for our new Trustee, he happens to go to my church. While I must admit I do not know the man personally, I do hope that he takes his name off the television and papers for a while so he does not continue to embaress those around him.

Steve Towsley
Sat, 01/20/2007 - 4:25pm

I'm old enough to know more of the facts -- that when Centlivre Apartments were built, they were viewed as being among Fort Wayne's coolest (and most expensive) places to live.

The apartments became the address of choice for privileged young people, and some Fort Wayne residents were equally impressed by the Centlivre family name in general.

How the mighty have fallen. Centlivre is now synonymous with something quite the opposite. You'd think they'd mind that.

Fort Wayne Property Manager
Sun, 04/01/2007 - 3:41am

Fort Wayne is so over built I can't see many people being homeless if slum lords are shut down. The bottom line is the owner and the property manager should have inspected these apartments even if a maintenance agreement had been made with the township office. If the twonship had breeched the agreement actions should have been taken by the own/agent. I shopped this property when it was on the market and was next to tears when I left. I can guarantee this property is one of the worst in Fort Wayne. I'm not saying there in not more out there but, gudos to the township. The apartments I toured as a prospect looked like the ones you seen on the news. There was one adult building in the back that looked a very fine line of ok. It's goes back to the owner/agent no matter what the case is even if it's the fault of the resident. Take actions with the resident if they are at fault, inspect what you exspect from the maintenance staff, hold the manager accountable. Hire real property managers instead of sales consultants or maintenance techs.

J. Schroeder
Thu, 05/17/2007 - 5:09am

Three years ago I was helping a family that had recently come from the Congo. It was a family consisting of a widowed father with four young children ages 18 months through 9 yrs old. They lived in the back building at Centlivre. Even from the first time I stepped into that building it was obvious to me it wasn't fit for humans. The building was not maintained at all, the hallways and elevators were filthy. Raoches were everywhere even during the day. I even heard baby birds nested in the air vents in a hallway. One day I decided to clean the cupboards and the kitchen while I was babysitting. I came armed with two cans of roach spray and a bottle of Lysol cleaner. It was a disgusting and horrifying experience. In the past I have worked with welfare families in the depths of Southwest Detroit and didn't see what I saw here. I spent the morning fumigating and then cleaning out the cupboards of roaches. I literally swept up piles and piles of roaches. I also threw away a dead mouse. At one point I sprayed roach spray into the crevices along the moulding in the dining room and dozens of roaches came streaming out. I just wanted to scream! I was sick to my stomach. I used up both cans of spray and half of the bottle of Lysol. There is no way anyone that knows anything about bugs and rodents can say it is only confined to one apartment. If they are in one, they are in all of them, especially in this case. After seeing what I saw while there the only way to get rid of a problem that huge is to tear down the buildings. Some people discounted the trustee's allegations. Obviously they were never in any of those apartments. I've been there, I know from first hand experience the trustee was not exagerrating what he saw. I'm not either, I wish I had had a camera that day. I was so glad when the family was able to move out of there and they are so happy to live in a clean place now.
It is such a shame that Centlivre is in the condition it is now. I've only lived here in Indiana for six years so I don't know what it was once like. I used to look at the apartment the family lived in and could see it was once a beautiful place. It was roomy and had two large bedrooms. The building also had a top floor of penthouses. I would love to see them and imagine how they looked thirty years ago. The lobby was once very impressive with its huge chandelier and waterfall in the corner. In its heyday it must have been a wonderful place to live.