TEXAS CITY — One of the directors of a Christian ministry that was managing an apartment complex in Texas City laid the blame for the problems at the apartments on tenants and the property owner.

Laura Propes, who, along with her husband, Christopher Propes, was a director of Worthy Ministry Inc. that managed the Timothy Apartments, claimed the two residents who had the electricity cut off to their units were behind on their rent and utility payments.

The residents, Kim Caldwell and Elizabeth Trevino, both dispute that claim and say they had paid what was asked of them.

Laura Propes also said the code violations and other issues on the property the apartment complex has been cited by the Texas City police for “life and safety issues” were the responsibility of property owner David Barnes and not hers or her husbands.

Barnes also disputes these claims and said that while he was responsible for major repairs on the property, he had been misinformed about the condition of the property by the Propes.

Barnes said he has evicted the Propes and is in the process of bringing the complex up to code.

Laura Propes said she was given 30 days to leave and that she had every intention of leaving.

She said she and her family have been threatened and she had her apartment was broken into the same night police came by the apartment complex on April 2.

Texas City police charged Kristen Hollins, Wendy Russel and Lynette Tinner with burglary of habitation. Her property was returned to her, Laura Propes said.

Failed eviction

Texas City police and Constable Derreck Rose were called out to the Timothy Apartments, 5105 Timothy St., a week ago when residents complained of, among other things, having the electricity shut off to their apartments.

Caldwell and Trevino said the Propes attempted to evict them from their apartments. When those attempts failed, the women said the Propes had the electricity shut off to their apartments.

Laura Propes disputes those claims and said the power was shut off because the women did not pay their bills. She claims to have the receipts showing Caldwell and Trevino were behind on their payments

“We have not run (a) scam,” Laura Propes said.

Meanwhile, Coldwell and Trevino said they paid what was asked of them. According to documents provided by tenants, residents were either asked to pay $70 a week for their apartment or, when they do not have a job, they were to work for Property Manager Christopher Propes.

Trevino also claims to have her receipts showing she has paid her rent.

Laura Propes said residents were actually expected to pay $70 for rent and another $70 for electricity and that residents had also been asked to sign a new agreement in March.

The Propes took the Caldwells to court to try to evict them on March 31, but Judge Sonny James dismissed the case because the landlords could not produce any kind of lease agreement. Laura Propes claimed she found the agreement later.

Just trying to help

Laura Propes said she and her husband had once been homeless and were trying to help others who were homeless or struggling by providing a place to live as well as counseling at the complex.

“We’ve done a lot for these people,” she said. “We take people in off the streets.”

She and her husband have done all this with no grants or government funding, Laura Propes said. Instead, Laura Propes said the ministry has organized sales and taken donations.

Property problems

Last week, though, tenants complained about lack of utilities, bedbugs, overcrowding of apartments and trash on the premise.

Laura Propes disputed those claims and said she and he husband, who was charged on March 27 for an unrelated charge of nonpayment of child support, had done what they could to keep the complex in good shape.

According to Texas City police, the apartment complex has been cited for “life and safety issues.”

Christopher Propes was given five citations because of uncorrected property maintenance issues on March 28, according to Texas City Police Chief Robert Burby.

Problems included lack of proper heat because gas had been shut off to some units, overflowing trash, problems with smoke detectors and some electrical issues.

But Laura Propers said the blame for issues with the large metal trash bin on the property and the gas and water service belonged with Barnes.

Barnes, who has owned the property since 2007, said he began leasing the complex to the ministry about a year ago.

Laura Propes claimed that according to the lease with Barnes, the ministry was not responsible for major repairs or the gas, water or large metal trash bin. Those were in Barnes’s name, she said.

She claimed they had trouble paying for gas and water for the units because the bills would go to Barnes, and they would not see them until they were overdue, Laura Propes said.

Barnes disputes those claims and said that according to the lease, the Propes were responsible for paying for the utilities and that he had provided the bills to them in time to pay them.

It is true that he was responsible for major repairs on the property, but minor repairs were left to the Propes, Barnes said.

He was kept in the dark about the issues on the property, Barnes said. Nobody from the city or the residents ever contacted him about the issues at the apartments, he said.

The only information he had came from the Propes, and they gave him the impression that things were being taken care of, Barnes said.

Barnes said he is working hard to get the complex back up to code and provide proper leases for tenants who want to stay.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

(4) comments

Jim Casey

Helping people who are homeless or unemployed is difficult and commendable. However, if someone can't manage such a project, "it's not my fault" is rather pathetic.

I've screwed up a few times. Who hasn't? Cowboy up and don't try to spread the blame and excuses.

- Jim

George Croix

For the majority of people these days a word-of-mouth contract isn't worth the paper it's written on...

Jim Casey

"...a word-of-mouth contract isn't worth the paper it's written on..."

Of course not.

If (hypothetically) someone is selling a dozen calves, a handshake deal is the old-fashioned way. Real estate management with millions of dollars in annual revenue is a lot more complicated than that.

Texas law, as libertarian as it is, doesn't allow real estate transactions to be completed without written agreements.

- Jim

Gary Miller

A tangled mess?
The kind of tennents could be suspect. Why else were they homeless?
Incompetent management seems likely, why weren't leases legally executed?
An owner trapped by trying to help people who thrive on dishonest conduct.

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