A Shanda That Must Be Corrected

Jewish Light Editorial

Shanda is the Yiddish term for a scandal that brings dishonor on the Jewish people. Regrettably, it is the perfect word to describe the disgraceful conditions of rental properties in St. Louis owned by the T.E.H. Realty firm, which was started by two Israeli entrepreneurs. 

Among the many financial investors in T.E.H. Realty are important figures in Israel, including the mayor of Jerusalem, who should use their influence to demand that T.E.H. comply with all regulations called for by local, state and federal officials.

Normally the Light is delighted to welcome Israeli firms to the St. Louis area. Several admirable companies have established a major presence in our community and are doing significant, exemplary work. But the allegations against T.E.H. Realty are egregious and we would be remiss if we did not comment on them.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has done extensive reporting on the health and safety issues at T.E.H. affordable housing properties in the St. Louis area. These conditions represent a clear and present danger to the health of the residents. 

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To their credit, several public figures on both sides of the aisle have taken strong stands against T.E.H., including U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat; and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis. 

The city of St. Louis sued T.E.H. in December over its Southwest Crossing apartment complex in south St. Louis, claiming that it was a nuisance property that poses “a threat to the public safety and welfare of the residents of the City.” 

The Post-Dispatch reported that the city received 76 complaints last year “about mold, insufficient heat, defective plumbing, mice and roach infestations and other problems at the apartment complex.”

Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage lender, also filed suit against the company last month, asking that the property be placed in an emergency receivership because the company had not made bond payments or repairs or paid utilities. A judge granted the request.   

During Hawley’s visit to the Bridgeport Crossing Apartments in Bridgeton, tenants told the senator about black mold, broken windows, rundown furnaces and busted-down doors, according to the Post-Dispatch. Hawley described the situation as shocking and called for T.E.H. to be held accountable.

According to a newsletter published by CTech, which follows the activities of start-ups, T.E.H. Realty was founded in 2006 and specializes in multifamily residential buildings in middle and lower class areas.  

The firm’s founders have not responded to requests for comment from the Light and other news organizations. 

The health and well-being of tenants who are trapped in deplorable conditions need immediate relief. The time for talking about this shanda is long past. The time to act is now.