Sunday, March 9, 2008

The problem: Unsafe living conditions

The Washington Post has documented dozens of cases of tenants being forced out as their homes were cleared to make way for high-end condos (The Profit in Decay, 3-9-08)

Bed Bugs

DC government housing inspectors, Div. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), issued housing code violations for building-wide bed bug infestations in 2006 and 2007. Children are bitten by bed bugs on a regular basis. Meanwhile, bed bugs continue to thrive.

We find bed bugs like these on a regular basis.
There is only one elevator in our seven-story building. Tenants are frequently trapped in the elevator, and each year the elevator breaks down for months at a time. Last July, during the hottest month of the summer, the elevator was out of service for 31 days.

The non-working elevator creates a hardship for tenants who are forced to carry groceries, strollers and bikes up the stairs. Seniors and people with chronic health conditions are most affected because they have even more difficulty taking the stairs. One senior who lives on the 5th floor has to carry his oxygen tank up the stairs, while another on the 6th floor has asthma attacks when he is forced to take the stairs. A tenant from the 7th floor on crutches was also forced to live without the elevator for a month. As a result of the elevator problems, many tenants are trapped in their apartments when the elevator is not working.

Management blames the elevator problems on old age, however, there are other 75 year-old elevators in DC that work properly because they receive regular maintenance.

Excessive hazardous amounts of mold exist throughout the building. Entire walls and rooms are covered in mold. Pictures taken on March 8, 2007.

The DC Department of the Environment conducted an investigation in March of 2007 and found excessive amounts of mold which causes respiratory health problems for seniors and children.

Residents who live in apartments with excessive levels mold such as children and seniors, have reported respiratory problems including persistent coughs, runny noses, and allergies.

During the past two years, three managment companies have managed the Norwood, Fleetwood Management, Dreyfuss Management and Cap City Management. These companies remove the mold by simply painting over it. The paint does not stay on the walls and simply peels away underneath the mold as seen in the pictures above.

One year later, March 2008, the mold has not been removed.

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