MPD has referred Connecticut House, an apartment building at 4500 Connecticut Avenue, to the Office of the Attorney General division that investigates “nuisance” properties.
MPD Second District Lieutenant Stephen Amodeo confirmed in an email that “recent qualifying violations of the law” led the police to take this step, which can lead to prosecution of the property owner. One violation, according to the newly formed Connecticut House tenants association, was the discovery of a ghost gun in the apartment of the woman who jumped from an eighth floor window on April 21st. Police say her legs were bound, and she was trying to escape an attacker. A suspect was arrested that night.
The tenants association says it has repeatedly requested a 24-hour security guard to deal with unauthorized visitors. DARO Management, the landord, continues to deny the request.
Connecticut House is the fourth apartment building in Van Ness to be referred to the OAG. The other three are 3003 Van Ness Street (previously known as Van Ness South), the Saratoga at 4601 Connecticut Avenue, and the Chesapeake at 4607 Connecticut.
On March 25th, the Van Ness South Tenants Association released a report on security issues at 3003 Van Ness including broken exterior doors and locks, and nonfunctioning security lights and cameras. The apartment building is an Equity Residential property.
Tenant leaders request a meeting with the mayor
Ward 3 tenant leaders have been holding listening sessions with elected leaders and candidates for office including Council chair Phil Mendelson, Ward 3 Council candidates Eric Goulet, Matt Frumin and Beau Finley, at-large Council candidate Lisa Gore and mayoral candidate and Council member Robert White. On Monday, May 9th, the tenant leaders from 3003 Van Ness, the Brandywine Apartments, Connecticut House, Sedgwick Gardens and the Kenmore sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser to request that she also meet with them.
In their letter, they invite the mayor to discuss her administration’s housing policies, which include voucher subsidies that they say pay “exceptionally high rents” to landlords, with the effect of making other renters less lucrative for property owners.
“This shrinks the stock of affordable rent-stabilized housing for low- and modest-income renters who do not receive vouchers,” the tenant leaders wrote.
Chris Geldart, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice, set the stage for such a meeting when he told ANC 3F in April that DC’s housing vouchers system “ain’t working.” He acknowledged that the residents who required additional support services often were not receiving them from the agencies that provided their vouchers. Geldart’s admission followed complaints from residents of Sedgwick Gardens, the Brandywine and other apartment buildings of a significant increase in police calls and visits, and a lack of an adequate response by DC agencies and landlords to reports of nuisance behavior and violent incidents.
Geldart said he had visited 20 DC apartment buildings with similar issues, including one that had so many voucher residents that it had become a de facto public housing unit. And, it was taxing police resources, with 120 service calls in two months.
“I can tell you that we’re bringing every agency that can give a voucher out into the room to account for what is happening,” Geldart said.
Tell us about your high-rise life
How well do the owners and managers of your apartment building respond to issues of building maintenance, safety and security, noise and trash? Does your building have tenants associations? How common are problems like those that drove MPD to refer four Van Ness buildings to the “nuisance” properties unit of the Office of the Attorney General? How livable are the places where so many DC residents live?
We’re seeking answers to these questions and more through our DC-wide tenants survey. We hope you will fill it out and pass it along to other renters you know.