After a year of organizing to improve conditions in their apartments, the tenants of Silver Spring’s Northwest Park Apartments secured a big victory when Kay Management committed to replacing all of the windows in the complex over the next four years – a crucial step to remediating rampant mold problems – and overhauling their policy for preventing and remediating mold.
Kay Management’s practices came under scrutiny in 2016 when Flower Branch Apartments, another Montgomery County apartment community managed by the company, suffered a tragic explosion and fire in which seven people lost their lives.
In 2015, with the help of AIM and parishioners of St. Camillus Catholic Church, a group of tenants in Northwest Park came together to seek redress for deplorable conditions in the apartments. Many tenants have claimed that their health has been seriously compromised because of the reoccurring mold in their apartments and persistent problems with rodents, bed bugs, and cockroaches, triggering or exacerbating their asthma conditions.
NW Park tenants, in partnership with St. Camillus and AIM, performed citizens inspections in over 100 apartments in the complex. They documented some of the housing code violations and found indications of mold in 80% of the apartments they had inspected. These problems were first brought to the attention of County officials at a public action with AIM and St. Camillus in December 2015. In response, Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs conducted housing code inspections. DHCA found over 2,000 violations and urged the management to collaborate with the Northwest Park tenants, AIM, and Montgomery County Renters Alliance and find solutions to these problems.
This dialogue resulted in a series of improvements in the Northwest Park community and a renewed optimism among its residents. One such improvement was the replacement of all the washing machines and dryers, which was one of the specific demands of the tenants.
The window replacement victory, along with ongoing replacement of drywall and inspections won by Northwest Park tenants has been key to preventing the high levels of humidity in the apartments that causes mold to grow and return after treatment.