Issues with Fields Apartments being submitted to the Housing Commission
The Fields Apartments on Ellison Street in Falls Church are one of the few affordable apartments in the area for low-income families. Many of those who live there have no other apartment to move to due to lower prices, but tenants have reported problems.
The Falls Church Housing Commission met with tenants of the complex earlier this month to discuss the problems and possible solutions. Some of the problems mentioned were mold, mice, and problems with landlords.
The property has recently been taken over by new management who have been left with the remaining unresolved issues of the previous employees.
A debriefing of the meeting with the tenants took place at the meeting of the Housing Commission on October 12th.
Councilor Debbie Hiscott stated that many of the tenants told her this was the first meeting they had attended and that they were glad to have someone willing to listen to their issues and address them.
Emma Calvert, of the management company that recently took over the property, told the commission: âIf there have been problems that have been around for a long time, we are working to address them and we have already addressed several things. Our plan is to continue working with residents as long as they bring this to our attention and are willing to work with us through some of these issues. “
However, Calvert was not present at the meeting with the tenants. She said that in order to fix these issues, she would need to hear from residents to know which apartment is having the problem.
Housing Commissioner Pete Davis noted that if he was in charge of a complex and heard complaints about mold, he would proactively reach out to everyone to resolve the problem as soon as possible. Calvert appeared to disagree, saying it would be easier for management to know exactly which apartments are having complaints.
It was also noted that many tenants had felt uncomfortable bringing up issues such as mold complaints due to the way issues were addressed in the past, including threats of evictions. Davis promised to stay alert and make sure residents feel safe and protected.
On the mold issue, the law requires all reports to be reviewed within five days, but tenants have left their homes with mold for much longer. The commission’s meeting with tenants raised complaints about mice, peeling off the floor, water problems and more.
“With a view to proactive public relations, we threw this meeting together in two weeks by handing out flyers and knocking on doors,” said Joshua Shokoor, chairman of the Housing Commission. “At least I think the property managers who understand the units and the residents who live there could do the same to let them know that we are aware of the issues and are happy to get in touch.”
While management made many promises at the meeting earlier this month, it is unclear whether or not they have been kept.
Councilor Letty Hardi commented that âThe Housing Commission did an excellent job of facilitating the community meeting. Aside from the immediate maintenance issues, it was evident that residents were frustrated and failed to get previous management to act. Glad the city stepped in and brought the parties together to make sure their voices are heard. We have to hold on to it, even when the current problems have been solved. “
Kettler, the building’s management company, will be invited to an upcoming city council meeting to report on progress.
Karl Polzer of the Center on Capital and Social Equity told the news press, âFalls Church and Northern Virginia are some of the richest places in the country. Political leaders here are more focused on real estate and business development and increasing the revenue base. As the gubernatorial campaign responses to our questionnaire on specific plans to help families in need show, they do not prioritize the needs of low-income workers – even though these voters make up a large part of the population.
He added: âElected officials are the most responsive to monetary concerns here, including high-income residents whose property is increasing in value. Unfortunately, with house prices rising faster than wages, fewer people who provide services in Falls Church can afford to live here. This includes important workers and many young adults who have grown up here who are entering into working life. Many young people cannot afford the local rents and live in their parents’ basement. The rising cost of living is making it difficult for many middle-income people, including teachers, to live here. Affordable living space is needed above all for people with disabilities and serious mental illnesses. “
He said, âA one bedroom apartment here is valued at about $ 16,000 to $ 20,000 a year. This is unaffordable for workers like waiters and home care workers who make $ 25,000 a year – especially if they are single parents. According to MIT economists, a “living wage” in Fairfax County to meet the needs of a single parent with one child would be $ 38.77 an hour. That’s more than $ 80,000 a year! “
The current conditions in the Fields Apartments are endangering residents and unfortunately many of them have no other means of finding affordable housing.