Mother in battle with housing complex over unfair treatment

| March 28, 2017
Alicia Royal says  she is being unfairly evicted from Hamilton Pointe apartment.

Alicia Royal says she is being unfairly evicted from Hamilton Pointe apartment.

Hamilton Pointe managers accused of neglect, harassment

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”—Kofi Annan

FORT WAYNE—Education is the key to the promise of a better future. That’s a lesson local mother Alicia Royal has taken to heart. Acting on that, Royal uprooted her family from the central part of town and moved to the southwest area of Fort Wayne so that her children could attend school in one of the state’s better school districts and receive an education at top ranked schools. That noble move to provide a quality education for her children, however, has turned into a legal and emotional nightmare because of a few troublesome neighbors—and building complex managers. The embattled mother called*reports that the building complex managers are unresponsive to problems to the point of being hostile.

In September 2014, spurred by reports naming schools in the Southwest Allen County School District as some of the best in the city and state and by the experiences of her sister who lives in the district, Royal moved to the Hamilton Pointe, listed at 1740 Freedom Drive, just off Illinois Road at Ridge Crest Cross, approximately 10 miles west of downtown Fort Wayne. In addition to providing the opportunity for a high quality education for her 15- and 12-year-old daughters, the move also afforded her another important support mechanism. Royal suffers from a severe case of sickle cell anemia—and has a case so severe, she typically is hospitalized more than twice each month. Her sister’s children go to Homestead High School and Woodside Middle School, where Royal’s own children eventually enrolled.

“I moved there so my kids could stay with my sister and go to school with my nieces and nephews while I was in the hospital,” explained Royal.

In addition to finding housing that was in Southwest Allen County Schools’ boundaries, she also had another housing requirement—a place that accepted Housing Authority vouchers, for which Royal is eligible for because of her disability and income.

Royal said she and her daughters initially were excited about the move because of the opportunities their new schools would provide them and because they would be closer to their cousins. But, soon after the move, parts of the dream became a nightmare for the family.

In October, just one month after moving to Hamilton Pointe, Royal said she started having issues with a neighbor and his family.

“They assigned me a handicapped parking spot and when they assigned me the spot, the neighbor didn’t like that,” said Royal. “They started cussing us out, harassing us, taking pictures of us…”

Royal said she complained to management but was told everyone just needed to get along with each other. Things escalated on Halloween.

Royal said the neighbor got into argument with her mother Vanya Royal’s nephew. It was during that argument Royal said the neighbor became extremely aggressive—to the point of being threatening.

“I saw him place his hand in his pocket. We heard shots and the police were called,” she said.

According to a police report filed Nov. 2, 2014 by Allen County Sheriff Department Officer Eric C. Foster, who responded to a complaint by Vanya Royal:

“Vanya stated she and her daughter, the CP (complaining party) Alicia Royal got into a verbal argument with the neighbor, Richard Holder over a handicap parking spot. Vanya stated they were unloading groceries when suspect 1 Richard Holder was trying to leave. Vanya stated they got into a yelling match… with Richard. Vanya stated she believed when Richard left, he fired a gun in the air. I asked Vanya if she saw a firearm. She stated no. I asked if she observed him firing the gun. Vanya said she heard it.

“No one else was able to advise they heard, saw a gun, or heard a shot. Advised everyone to stay away from each other.…”

Both Alicia Royal and her mother said they were disappointed that nothing was done by police and also complained to the complex’s management, pointing to a lease clause that forbids firearms on the property. Unfortunately, they conceded that they could find no witness who had actually seen the neighbor brandish or fire a weapon.

The conflict with the neighbor did not end there, said Alicia Royal.

She said the neighbor let his son play ball in the parking lot, resulting in damage to her car. Again, she said, her complaints went unanswered.

“They hit my car twice. I told management and they told me to call the cops. The cops told me it was private property and they wouldn’t do anything about it,” said Alicia.

That incidents reported by Royal  occurred around June 2015.

There were other incidents of verbal harassment and Royal said she called authorities to try to resolve the problems. That, too, she said resulted in more problems.

“After I kept calling the cops out there. Lisa [Pavey] the manager who was working out there gave [the neighbor] my information to file a protective order against me,” alleged Royal.

Royal said she responded by filing a protective order against the neighbor but both were dismissed.

While the ongoing conflicts with the neighbor were deeply disturbing as well as disappointing, ultimately, it was run-in with management that started an even further downhill spiral in Royal’s relationship with the management of Hamilton Pointe.

Frustrated with the problems she was experiencing at the complex and the seeming lack of inaction on the part of management, Alicia Royal said she eventually asked the complex’s maintenance man for the number of the RealAmerica LLC—the Fisher, Indiana-based corporate entity that manages the 104-unit Hamilton Pointe Apartments. In addition to Hamilton Pointe, RealAmerica manages a number of other Fort Wayne properties including Randall Lofts, Stellhorn Pointe, Tillwater Pointe, Maysville Landing and Orchard Places as well properties in other Indiana locations including Huntington, Warsaw, Shelbyville and Nashville, Indiana, according to the company’s website.

Royal said the maintenance man was short with her and refused to give her the information, however, she found the number on her own.

She used the number in November 2016 to call RealAmerica to complain that a malfunctioning washer in her apartment had not been fixed or replaced, despite complaints to management.

“It started in October,” said Royal. “It turned into about three weeks.”

Royal said she kept complaining to Patricia Green-Simpson, the onsite property for Hamilton Pointe Apartments manager.

“She told me I wasn’t getting a washer. I called corporate and they said the lady I needed to talk to was at lunch.”

That woman with whom she needed to talk was Ronda Shrewsbury Weybright, president and owner of RealAmerica.

“I called back and the secretary would not let me talk to Rhonda,” said Royal.

Interestingly, the same day she called corporate she received the washer but also a letter threatening eviction:

Royal produced an unsigned letter from Green-Simpson Dated Dec. 2, 2016 which reads:

“Due to the lease violation(s) of Harassing Management, I am hereby I am hereby requiring you to vacate by 2/2/17.…

“Failure to comply with this demand by the date above will result in an eviction action, filed against you, seeking court-ordered possession. Such legal action will go on your permanent record with the credit bureau and County Court records.”

Days later, she received a signed letter from Lisa Pavey, area manager from Hamilton Pointe Apartments, stating:

“Per the direction of our attorney we are going to request that all further communications you have with RealAmerica Management or any of its entities or employees be put in writing. We will no longer be accepting phone calls from you. You can send your written communication to the property office via mail or it can be left in the rent box.…

“Failure to comply with the demand by the date above will result in an eviction action, filed against you, seeking court-ordered possession. Such legal action will go on your permanent record with the credit bureau and County Court records and cause you to incur additional legal and court fees.”

Stunned, Royal said she initially started preparing to move and file a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, feeling that she had been discriminated against for a number of reasons, including her handicapped status, which seemed to trigger her initial problems at Hamilton Pointe. After calming down and looking more closely at the letters and talking to her mother, Royal realized that she had not been served a legal eviction notice by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department and surmised that letters amounted to an effort to coerce her into leaving her apartment voluntarily. Nor had she received any legal order to not call the corporate office to complain.

She said Hamilton Pointe management again pushed her to move.

Royal said Green-Simpson called and said she hadn’t gotten a call from Royal indicating she was moving.

“I told her I wasn’t moving and she stated to me she had rented my apartment out and I would lose my [housing] voucher,” explained Royal.

Royal called her caseworker at the Fort Wayne Housing Authority and the caseworker said that that apartment complex had no authority to take away Royal’s housing voucher.

Royal tried to pay her February rent. She sent a certified letter with her rent to the office instead of hand delivering it to avoid being accused of harassing staff by visiting the office but they refused delivery. She showed Frost staff the unopened envelope which had been refused by office personnel. Meanwhile, she received a letter from RealAmerica on her door with no name at the bottom and no indication that it was from Hamilton Pointe management, dated Feb. 9, 2017, saying:

“Dear ALICIA

“Your rental balance is late and needs to be paid immediately. Your account has been charged a $50.00 late fee because your monthly rent and/or other balances were not received on or before 8:00 a.m. of the 6th day of February 2017.

“As of the date of this notice, your account balance of $353.00 is now past due, which includes all charges you have incurred under the terms of your lease agreement. PAYMENT MUST BE IN THE FORM OF CASHIER’S CHECK OR MONEY ORDER.

“If payment in full has not occurred by 8:00 a.m on the 16th of February 2017, you are hereby notified to vacate your apartment and turn the keys into the management office. Failure to comply with either of these demands will result in an immediate eviction action to be filed against you for court-ordered possession. This will also go on your permanent record with the credit bureau and County Court records.”

Again, stunned that Hamilton Pointe would refuse her rent and then try to evict her for not paying, Royal engaged attorney Sam Bolinger to take up her case. After filing a legal complaint, Bolinger had the sheriff deliver the rent given that Royal had received no formal eviction.  According to Royal, the sheriff also  had to deliver March’s rent.

Again, Royal said she was informed that she had caused a problem and that Hamilton Pointe management had rented the apartment and that she had to leave.

“After that, I called the cops and made a police report,” said Royal.

Three days later, she said she was served a restraining order alleging harassment with a Feb. 16 court date. That date has be reset for March 23 because of her attorney’s schedule.

The situation has deteriorated even further.

Hamilton Pointe filed an emergency eviction against Royal—this time, with their claim of non-payment derailed by the sheriff delivering the rent they had refused to accept, claiming harassment and making allegations that she had upset neighbors in the area. Shockingly for Royal, on March 15, Magistrate Jennifer L. Degroote granted the emergency eviction, with Royal feeling that her evidence of unethical business practices used to try to force her out weren’t considered. In another perceived slap in the face, Royal said she got official word of the March 15 ruling via a letter from her attorney postmarked March 17 and despite the understanding that if she lost, she would have seven days to vacate the premises, found herself locked out of her apartment on March 20.

Royal has been staying with her mother since the eviction. Her children our staying with her sister to prevent disrupting their education but are experiencing the effects of being forcibly uprooted from their home. Royal herself is being treated for stress in the wake of the turmoil.

All the while, Royal said she kept calling RealAmerica to inform Weybright of the problems she was having with management at Hamilton Pointe, but kept getting a woman named Bridget who refused to let her talk to the CEO. Eventually, Royal said Bridgette routed her to a woman named Yvonne who told her to stop trying to call Weybright.

Frost Illustrated attempted to contact Weybright or another RealAmerica official for comment on this story on March 21 for this story. Weybright’s extension was answered by a woman named Bridget who was informed by Frost staff that the paper wanted to speak to Weybright about the allegations of problems at Hamilton Pointe. Bridgette said Weybright was out and that she would give her a message.

On March 22, Frost staff again called the office seeking to contact Weybright( for any comment regarding the Hamilton Pointe housing matters. A woman who did not identify herself answered the phone and after being informed of the newspaper’s desire to allow RealAmerica to comment, said she would make sure Weybright got the message.

After receiving no callback, Frost staff called RealAmerica on March 23. Again, a woman identifying herself as Bridget answered. When informed that Frost wanted to make sure that corporate officials at least were aware of the story and had an opportunity to comment, she said the company “had no comment.” When asked, however, if she was authorized to speak on behalf of the company, she indicated that she would transfer the call to “Yvonne.” When given the same information, “Yvonne” also said RealAmerica had “no comment,” but when asked her last name for the story, she declined to give it. Upon further questioning, Yvonne would not confirm that she was authorized to give an official statement on behalf of RealAmerica and said she would give a message to Weybright. Frost Illustrated staff informed her of the newspaper’s impending press deadline and requested comment by March 24.

On March 24, after receiving no call from a RealAmerica representative, Frost staff again called RealAmerica. Bridget again answered and said that she had passed a message along to Weybright. Frost staff then offered the option for the company to respond to a request for comment via email as well as phone.

Frost Illustrated had received no comment on the story at presstime.she was moving.

“I told her I wasn’t moving and she stated to me she had rented my apartment out and I would lose my [housing] voucher,” explained Royal.

Royal called her caseworker at the Fort Wayne Housing Authority and the caseworker said that that apartment complex had no authority to take away Royal’s housing voucher.

Royal tried to pay her February rent. She sent a certified letter with her rent to the office instead of hand delivering it to avoid being accused of harassing staff by visiting the office but they refused delivery. She showed Frost staff the unopened envelope which had been refused by office personnel. Meanwhile, she received a letter from RealAmerica on her door with no name at the bottom and no indication that it was from Hamilton Pointe management, dated Feb. 9, 2017, saying:

“Dear ALICIA

“Your rental balance is late and needs to be paid immediately. Your account has been charged a $50.00 late fee because your monthly rent and/or other balances were not received on or before 8:00 a.m. of the 6th day of February 2017.

“As of the date of this notice, your account balance of $353.00 is now past due, which includes all charges you have incurred under the terms of your lease agreement. PAYMENT MUST BE IN THE FORM OF CASHIER’S CHECK OR MONEY ORDER.

“If payment in full has not occurred by 8:00 a.m on the 16th of February 2017, you are hereby notified to vacate your apartment and turn the keys into the management office. Failure to comply with either of these demands will result in an immediate eviction action to be filed against you for court-ordered possession. This will also go on your permanent record with the credit bureau and County Court records.”

Again, stunned that Hamilton Pointe would refuse her rent and then try to evict her for not paying, Royal engaged attorney Sam Bolinger to take up her case. After filing a legal complaint, Bolinger had the sheriff deliver the rent given that Royal had received no formal eviction.  According to Royal, the sheriff also  had to deliver March’s rent.

Again, Royal said she was informed that she had caused a problem and that Hamilton Pointe management had rented the apartment and that she had to leave.

“After that, I called the cops and made a police report,” said Royal.

Three days later, she said she was served a restraining order alleging harassment with a Feb. 16 court date. That date has be reset for March 23 because of her attorney’s schedule.

The situation has deteriorated even further.

Hamilton Pointe filed an emergency eviction against Royal—this time, with their claim of non-payment derailed by the sheriff delivering the rent they had refused to accept, claiming harassment and making allegations that she had upset neighbors in the area. Shockingly for Royal, on March 15, Magistrate Jennifer L. Degroote granted the emergency eviction, with Royal feeling that her evidence of unethical business practices used to try to force her out weren’t considered. In another perceived slap in the face, Royal said she got official word of the March 15 ruling via a letter from her attorney postmarked March 17 and despite the understanding that if she lost, she would have seven days to vacate the premises, found herself locked out of her apartment on March 20.

Royal has been staying with her mother since the eviction. Her children our staying with her sister to prevent disrupting their education but are experiencing the effects of being forcibly uprooted from their home. Royal herself is being treated for stress in the wake of the turmoil.

All the while, Royal said she kept calling RealAmerica to inform Weybright of the problems she was having with management at Hamilton Pointe, but kept getting a woman named Bridget who refused to let her talk to the CEO. Eventually, Royal said Bridgette routed her to a woman named Yvonne who told her to stop trying to call Weybright.

Frost Illustrated attempted to contact Weybright or another RealAmerica official for comment on this story on March 21 for this story. Weybright’s extension was answered by a woman named Bridget who was informed by Frost staff that the paper wanted to speak to Weybright about the allegations of problems at Hamilton Pointe. Bridgette said Weybright was out and that she would give her a message.

On March 22, Frost staff again called the office seeking to contact Weybright( for any comment regarding the Hamilton Pointe housing matters. A woman who did not identify herself answered the phone and after being informed of the newspaper’s desire to allow RealAmerica to comment, said she would make sure Weybright got the message.

After receiving no callback, Frost staff called RealAmerica on March 23. Again, a woman identifying herself as Bridget answered. When informed that Frost wanted to make sure that corporate officials at least were aware of the story and had an opportunity to comment, she said the company “had no comment.” When asked, however, if she was authorized to speak on behalf of the company, she indicated that she would transfer the call to “Yvonne.” When given the same information, “Yvonne” also said RealAmerica had “no comment,” but when asked her last name for the story, she declined to give it. Upon further questioning, Yvonne would not confirm that she was authorized to give an official statement on behalf of RealAmerica and said she would give a message to Weybright. Frost Illustrated staff informed her of the newspaper’s impending press deadline and requested comment by March 24.

On March 24, after receiving no call from a RealAmerica representative, Frost staff again called RealAmerica. Bridget again answered and said that she had passed a message along to Weybright. Frost staff then offered the option for the company to respond to a request for comment via email as well as phone.

Frost Illustrated had received no comment on the story at presstime.

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Category: Civil Rights, Community, Courts and Justice, Crime & Safety, Local

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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