This past week my partner and I had to deal with possible bedbug problem. We discovered a few bites that resembled the one’s left by bedbugs – after a long day of an unscheduled spring cleaning we felt better. But the stress and anxiety certainly took a toll on both of us.
For those that visit or see us face-to-face – we do not have bedbugs and our apartment is really clean now!!
The whole thing started after I visited a few residents of an Austin neighborhood apartment complex. A local community organization brought the occupants together to force the company fix the deplorable conditions of the building. They include bedbugs, rats, cockroaches, weak flooring and only a few other complaints. One resident collected some of the bedbugs they must deal with and threatened to send the bottle to the property manager and the bank that is in the process of foreclosing on the building. No one wants to be held responsible for the conditions and thus no one will uphold their legally obligated duties to take care of the place.
The residents, many of whom recently moved in under false promises, already struggle to make ends meet. Austin, on the west side of Chicago, is already a poor neighborhood and anyone who has moved can attest to the fact that it is a costly venture – in both time and money.
Janelle Teague, a new resident, says she was not told of any of these potential problems. Weak spots in her hardwood floor were painted over. A spot just at her front door feels like I might fall right through when I place a little of my body weight on it. The picture below shows an out of order sign taped to the floor. Yes, the floor is apparently out of order but not enough to have it fixed in a timely fashion.
“We will not go quietly into the night,” says Teague. “We will not go without a fight; I have six children and cannot allow them to live in such conditions, while the people who run Peak Properties and BMO/Harris Bank live in the lap of luxury.”
Pamela Johnson, another newer resident, claims the property manager promised changes before she moved in. On her move in date she found her apartment without a refrigerator and a adjacent apartment flooding because of stolen piping.
“I have to stay up at night to make sure the rats don’t come out of the walls and bite my kids,” said Johnson. The baseboards in her apartment do not reach the floor leaving a large enough gap for bugs and rats to come in at will.
Both BMO and Peak Properties did not return calls for comment. A four year resident, Danny Barnes, says neither company wants to pay for the fixes. Barnes says the problems have only grown worse in the last two years, as a result he collected the bedbugs in a bottle. He plans to collect more in order to send them to the BMO/Harris Bank, Peak Properties, and the property manager.
These residents have little to no way to find justice. Moving out is monetarily impossible for many and merely leaves the problem for future residents, the court system tends to be slow and even more costly. The only way for them to see a resolution comes through the power of organizing. With the residents on one side, a community organization in an assisting role, and public support can give them enough leverage to force the bank and the property manager into action.
Luckily for us, we won’t have to experience anything like that (unless a series of unfortunate events strikes us down the road). We have a privilege of a middle class family. If our situation became dire we could count on either one of our families for help. We would have the resources to move. We have access (and will in future apartments) to a landlord that cares about our living conditions.
The legal system is supposed to level out those types of privileges but it sadly finds itself overwhelmed in its caseload and dependent upon having money for proper representation.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.