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But another caseworker in the metro says she hates sending clients to the St. Regis because she knows McCray very well. "She always has rooms. That's the sad thing," the caseworker says. "It's not the condition of the building that is the problem. It's her. I think she has the wool pulled over everyone's eyes."
"She's vicious," says one tenant of McCray's who's terrified enough of the building's manager to speak to a reporter only through a closed door. "She'll put you out for anything. If she has to make up a reason, it's her word against ours. And it's too cold out there for me to be walking around with nothing but a shopping cart."
An elderly resident describes a handwritten sign she says used to be displayed in McCray's office: "Keep your fucking hands off my desk."
Another tenant's door opens to reveal an older woman's sparsely furnished apartment. A piece of clothing is draped over the room's smoke detector — otherwise, she says, it would go off every time she cooks. The woman describes how McCray once threatened to send her to the City Union Mission.
"I didn't know managers had the authority to do that," the woman says. "But that's what she told me."
A disabled woman in her 70s says she has lived here for "three miserable years." She says she has seen neighbors attempt to buy their way out of eviction. Some residents have lent McCray their food-stamp cards in exchange for cash, she says.
What frightens this tenant most is the thought that she could die in her apartment and no one would know. Months back, she became alarmed when she didn't hear her neighbor's television for several days. She told McCray that she was worried and asked that she check on the man. But the manager took no action.
"He had to start stinking before Michelle would come from behind that desk to see about this man," she says. "It took them six days to get this man's body out of here, and that was only because his caregiver stopped by."
If living at the St. Regis is so awful, why doesn't she complain to Knudson Housing Partners?
"I would have to get that number," she admits. "But anyone listening to my voice is going to say, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. It ain't gonna get done.'"
"To be blunt, it's not assisted living," building attorney Wise tells The Pitch. "It's not the manager's job to check on tenants every day."
Living at the St. Regis is cheap, but government aid has its price. HUD's Section 8 Lease Agreement spells out the indignities to which a renter must submit — and leaves plenty of room for a building's manager to bend those rules as he or she pleases. Managers may conduct surprise unit inspections "at all reasonable hours." Prying into a tenant's private life is fair game to ensure that no one is sneaking off to a side job that provides undisclosed income. A manager may ask who spent the night or check to see that visitors actually hit the bricks, lest their names be added to the lease.
"When you're getting a subsidy from the government, you have to jump through all of their hoops," says Wise, who files eviction notices in Jackson County Court on behalf of Knudson Housing Partners and the St. Regis. "Obviously people resent having to talk about those things because they are personal, but at the same time, the management has to keep records for the government and follow HUD rules and regulations."