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Cascade Management

This week's Rogue gets shared by those responsible for the chamber of horrors at the low-income Upshur House Apartments in the thick of Northwest Portland's pricey condos.

A visit to the 30-unit complex at 2650 NW Upshur St., along with a little research, finds a list of longstanding problems such as busted sewer pipes and proliferation of mold in apartments where kids live.

Cascade Management administers the building for Upshur House Ltd., which owns the apartments and is a partnership run by former TriMet director Tom Walsh.

Tom Walsh's former construction company, Walsh Construction (now run by brother Robert Walsh), built the apartments in 1980 on property leased for 60 years from the Portland Development Commission, which requires that the building remain in a "good state of repair and in first-class condition."

Several lawsuits filed in the past year by tenants complain of uninhabitable conditions, including mold.

Children living at Upshur House suffer from high numbers of colds, earaches, skin rashes, asthma and other gland/skin disorders, say their parents. And independent mold tests done as part of the litigation reveal "a high likelihood of mold growth."

After years of tenant complaints, Cascade Management chose to cut out the worst infected pieces of the floorboards rather than replace the entire floor.

Letters from Cascade Management to tenants also acknowledge a series of sewer-line breaks underneath the apartments. Cascade declined comment, citing ongoing litigation.

In exchange for a complete release of liability, Cascade Management offered at least one tenant $6,000 (later upped to $8,000), substitute housing in Forest Grove and a spot on the waiting list to move back in following an estimated six-month repair.

The Walsh brothers declined comment. And the PDC says it waived its right of inspection in favor of another agency more directly involved in the building's operation doing it. That agency, Oregon Housing and Community Services, conducts annual site inspections, including review of 20 percent of the units. A May inspection of Upshur raised no red flags.