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HUD encourages owners of buildings like the St. Regis to apply for the grant that pays a social coordinator's salary, but it's not required. Jones' one-year contract was paid through a HUD grant to Knudson Housing Partners. In her role, Jones took the complaints of her clients seriously, which is why she thinks McCray told her out-of-state boss at Knudson, Pat O'Dowd, not to renew the grant after it expired.
Jones confirms the stories that the St. Regis residents told The Pitch, and then some. She says she saw McCray curse, humiliate and nearly come to blows with her tenants. Jones says she saw what might have been financial abuses as well.
A prospective tenant can't move into the St. Regis if he or she owns another residence. This rule initially prevented an elderly woman named Lillie Hayes from moving in. Hayes, a widow, owned a home at 2444 Prospect, but it was in bad shape, and Hayes couldn't afford the upkeep. McCray offered to buy Hayes' home. Jackson County property records show that in 2005, the home's assessed value was $6,355. On November 8, 2005, Hayes sold the home to Michelle White for $1,000. (At that time, McCray went by White, the name of her first husband; she has since divorced and remarried.) On the deed, Hayes' address is listed as the St. Regis, Apartment 301.
Dale Gray, public communications officer with HUD, says the agency has no rules preventing a building manager from buying a tenant's property. But Hayes' complaint, sources say, was that McCray never paid her the $1,000. (Hayes moved from the St. Regis into a nursing home on April 21, 2008.)
If Hayes never received her $1,000 from McCray for the house, Wise says, "Ask her to file suit for the money, and we'll establish that, I guess .... If she hasn't received her money yet, this is the first we've heard of that."
Jackson County records show that McCray sold the house on Prospect to an individual named Elfonda Lennox. The records don't show the sale price; Wise says Lennox paid McCray "around $6,000." Six days later, Lennox took out an adjustable-rate loan on the property for $63,000, from Flatirons Financial Inc., of Olathe. Records indicate that the loan went into default in 2007. Wise says McCray's sale of the property to Lennox was a "total arm's-length transaction" and that McCray and Lennox are "not friends, not acquaintances, not relatives or anything."
McCray's authoritarian rule extends to maintenance at the St. Regis. She hired an old Southwest High School classmate of hers, Orlando Gaines, to do general upkeep in 2008. Gaines says McCray disrespected her tenants. "I was like, man, this girl here, she got major issues. But she was a friend, you know?"
When Gaines made it clear that he didn't approve of McCray's treatment of her tenants, plum projects stopped coming his way. "I just had to do regular maintenance because I didn't fit into the scenario," he says.
Around the same time, Gaines says, a tenant died in an apartment, and his body went undiscovered for several days. After medical personnel removed the body, a pool of feces and blood remained on the apartment floor. Rather than replace the carpet, Gaines says, McCray ordered him to get a mop and clean it. His refusal angered McCray.