Some apartment management companies moved slowly to require masks and social distancing from residents and staff, or to post signs and other notices of such requirements, say tenant leaders and residents of buildings on upper Connecticut Avenue.
William Hawkins, a founder of the DC Area Tenant Associations Consortium, or DCATAC, lives in the Kenmore at 5415 Connecticut Avenue. He is also the president of the Kenmore’s resident association, and pushed management company Bozzuto on the issue.
At the Brandywine Apartments, a Borger Management property at 4545 Connecticut Avenue, residents had “petitioned the management company for masking and social distancing since April 20 with more than 20 letters,” said David Luria, the president of the Brandywine tenant association and another DCATAC founder. In late April, the tenant association raised money for the purchase of 200 masks to be given free of charge to any resident who needed one. The first donated masks arrived and were placed at the front desk on May 13th.
Barbara Cline, a longtime resident of Connecticut House at 4500 Connecticut Avenue, has been after DARO, the apartment building’s new management company, to put signs up in all common areas, not just the lobby.
Cline is also asking that the building specify that only one person uses an elevator at one time.
The basis for their requests: Two orders from Mayor Bowser’s office. Mayor’s Order 2020-053, issued March 24th, defined housing and living facilities as essential businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Mayor’s Order 2020-066, issued May 13th, required that “customers” and workers wear masks and maintain six feet of social distance.
Claire Ruppert, the manager of Clarence House and Frontenac (WC Smith, 4530 and 4550 Connecticut Avenue), thought Mayor Bowser could have given clearer direction.
“I am familiar with the Mayor’s orders,” Ruppert wrote in an email, “but I wish they had described in detail the new roles and responsibilities property managers were expected to play in disseminating and enforcing them.”
She does think the mayor has “done a terrific job considering how enormous this problem is.” Ruppert, at the request of residents, turned the buildings’ recommendations into requirements. Signs spell out what’s required.
Forest Hills Connection also reached out to residents in Park Van Ness, The Avalon, Sedgwick Gardens and Van Ness North, a coop. They reported the buildings had taken the following actions in response to Covid-19:
- Signs requiring masks posted at all entrances and in common areas including elevators
- Requiring that one person use an elevator at one time
- Emails from management clearly stating the requirements
Hawkins, Luria and Cline have learned over years of working with their management companies to make their requests clear. They back up those requests with policies and laws on the books or demand new ones to be made if those are not adequate for the situation. It can take concerted action over time to effect change.
Hawkins found this sign posted at the Kenmore on Friday, May 29th.
And at the Brandywine Apartments, the first signs went up at the beginning of June.
Luria, the Brandywine tenant association president, is still urging the building manager to place signs at every entrance.