New details are emerging in the ongoing saga involving the Ralston Towers in downtown Columbus.
Earlier this week representatives from the Washington, D.C. office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were in Columbus, talking to Ralston Towers residents.
“The goal of the visit was to speak with each resident to get their impression of their property,” HUD General Deputy Assistant Secretary Jereon M. Brown told News 3 in an email. “Ralston Towers is being evaluated to ensure the owner and management are meeting the requirements of the contract…This is a legal/contractual process so the steps must be followed.”
It is no secret that HUD inspectors have been crawling all over the Ralston since the summer, when a Muscogee County jury awarded a $125 million verdict in a wrongful death case.
This could lead to HUD pulling the federal funding that the New Jersey-based owners of the Ralston receive. P.F. Holdings, LLC has a right to appeal the inspection results.
If HUD deems, the vouchers that most residents depend on for housing would be taken from the owners. This would give residents more choice in relocation — if it comes to that.
Ralston resident Marion Bass says that the HUD officials spent about 15 minutes inside his room on Tuesday.
“They came and inspected my room and a couple of more … a lot more rooms,” he said. “And to determine whether the contractors came in and did what they are supposed to do. Me, personally, I don’t know why they were here other than seeing them asking questions and whatnot.”
Bass says the HUD inspectors found mold he did not know about in his room.
A spokesman with the OIG would not confirm nor deny that a criminal investigation was underway.
An attorney for P.F. Holdings told News 3 the owners have not been told of a criminal investigation by the OIG.