Thursday, March 6, 2008

DC Government Response: Seeking Enforcement

Like other tenants mentioned in the recent March 2008 Washington Post article series "The profit in Decay," and "A failure in enforcement," the Norwood Tenant Asociation has dedicated its efforts to fix numerous housing code violations by working with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) with little to no progress.

DCRA has conducted two building-wide housing inspections at the Norwood in September 2006 and June 2007. Over 300 housing code violations were cited but have not been enforced. The potential fines were assessed at over $200,000, however as of today, the DCRA has only collected $1,000 for the elevator being out of service in July 2007.

Inspectors have repeatedly cited the Norwood for mold, building-wide bed bug, roach and mice infestations, crumbling walls, exposed electrical wires in common areas of the building, fire code violations, malfunctioning heaters, no working air conditioners and the malfunctioning elevator with little or no enfocement.

In March 2007, the DC Department of the Environment conducted a mold inspection. The report concluded that there were dangerous levels of mold that affect the respiratory health of children, seniors and people with compromised health conditions. Unfortunately, the inspector who completed the mold report report did not deliver a copy to the management company or the landlord.

The tenants of the Norwood have worked with the Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs (OLA), and the Office of the Tenant Advocate (OTA) to call for inspections and to seek support. Unfortunately many of our biggest problems are still unresolved.

We have been successful at organizing our community and educating our neighbors about our rights and ways to address our problems. The DC government is well aware of the problems at the Norwood, yet many problems persist.

We ask ourselves if the city will not compel landlords to maintain their rental buildings, what other recourse to we tenants have? We hope that community and city support will bring further attention to the problems, and address the problem of unresponsive landlords and management companies throughout the District. We have the right to safe and decent housing.

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