Thursday, November 29, 2007

Court Update, Problems Persist...

We have finished presenting our case for the tenant petition (lawsuit) we filed against the management company and landlord in the DC Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).

The Management company will present their case in the OAH at 941 North Capitol Street, January 9-10, 2008.

Ten tenants have testified about the unsafe and unsanitary conditions they are forced to live with, including:

-Living with mice and roaches.
-Bedbug infestations in their apartments. One tenant testified about finding a bedbug nest under his bed.
-Walking up 7 flights of stairs on crutches because the elevator was broken for 31 days.
-Children being bitten by bedbugs.
-Having no heat or A/C.
-Mold infestations along living room and bedroom walls.
-Stoves leaking gas.

We hope the management finally ushers in some much needed repairs in the new year.

For now, we request, and we wait...

To contact us, please email

Friday, November 16, 2007

Op-Ed: Would you pay $200k for an apartment with bedbugs, no heat, and no working elevator?

UPDATE: Norwood to be featured on "Metro Watch" with Gloria Minott
Tune in Thursday, Nov. 29 at 9:35am-WPFW FM 89.3 Washington, DC and Around the World here.

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty unveiled his plan for Affordable housing earlier this week. The plan is decidedly long overdue for the District, but it could represent a refreshing step forward in the battle to preserve and build our affordable housing stock.

The Norwood tenants are most interested in the Mayor's plan to combat slumlords who profit at the peril of tenants:
"Another part of the mayor's plan is to prevent slumlords from converting deteriorated apartment buildings into high-priced condominiums. The legislation will be prepared by the Fenty administration to prevent landlords with persistent and unaddressed housing code violations from raising rents in rent-controlled buildings and from converting the building into condominiums to be sold at market rate."

We have penned the "Letter to the Editor" below to highlight the story of one building which represents many. We all have the right to safe and decent housing, a fact that is sometimes blurred by greed and apathy.

Would you pay $200k for an apartment with bedbugs, no heat, and no working elevator?

We are tenants at the Norwood apartments in Logan Circle. The city has cited our building with over 300 housing code violations in the last 14 months. As rents continue to increase, bedbugs, mold and a non-working elevator continue to worsen. Instead of addressing the Norwood’s problems, our absentee landlord sent developers to pitch condo conversion.

Mayor Fenty recently unveiled his plan to preserve affordable housing and prevent slumlords from converting deteriorating apartment buildings into high-end condos.

In the two years since we organized the Norwood Tenants Association, we have seen that the problems in our apartments are not unique. Indeed, our problems are replicated thousands of times throughout the city. We learned this by reaching out and partnering with community organizations such as the DC Tenant Advocacy Coalition (TENAC), the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), and the DC Office of the Tenant Advocate. As a result, we helped establish the DC Tenants Rights Alliance, a coalition of twenty deteriorating rent-controlled buildings across the city who are fighting off condo conversion attempts.

Despite our efforts to improve the unsafe conditions in our home, a building-wide bed bug infestation and other housing violations thrive. We continue to receive yearly rent increases with no improvements, and are presently engaged in multiple lawsuits against our slum lord.

Last may, our slum lord, offered us the building for the outrageous price of $12 million, “as is.” Our slumlord now wants to be rewarded for neglecting the building by squeezing the last bit of residual value from the declining real estate market.

It is critical that the city enforce the law that prohibits landlords from raising rents where there are persistent and unaddressed housing code violations. Today landlords take nearly automatic rent increases, regardless of problems. Tenants' only recourse is then to enter into a lengthy and expensive lawsuit process. The Mayor’s new plan supports tenants’ rights and saves money by prohibiting improper rent increases and illegal condo conversions before they happen.

The Mayor’s proposal gives us new hope. Someone is listening to the thousands of families in DC who grasp at the diminishing stock of affordable housing in the face of opportunistic developers and bad landlords. We urge the City Council to back the Mayor’s proposal, and to expand the focus beyond the four neighborhoods cited by the Mayor’s affordable housing protection team.

Buying our building may be the only way to preserve our affordable housing and to fix our problems. The city should budget part of the projected surplus funds for tenant purchases, co-ops and affordable condo options.

Norwood Tenants Association

David Fabian
Silvia Salazar
Randy Green
Henry Jones

Friday, November 9, 2007

Norwood Tenants Association Has 'Their Day(s) in Court'

The Norwood tenants have been on overdrive since the Summer of no elevator in the face of landlord intimidation tactics. We have already had several hearings for our consolidated tenant petitions, and several tenants have had the chance to speak out about their problems in court. Our next hearing dates are November 13th and 14th, 2007.

On November 30th, 2007, we will have our first hearing in DC Superior Court for the Right to Organize case. As we mentioned earlier this Summer, the landlord served Norwood tenant organizers with papers demanding they quit holding meetings to organize tenants, a clear violation of the DC Tenants Right to Organize Act of 2006.

As a result of these intimidation tactics by the landlord, Norwood Tenant's Association board members, David Fabian and Randy Green, have filed the first lawsuit under the 2006 Tenant Right to Organize Act. The Norwood tenants hope to prove once and for all that tenants have an absolute right to organize and meet in their buildings.

We look forward to updating you about the progress of our lawsuits, and we encourage you to 'stay tuned' to the Norwood!