Housing Improvements at Northwest Park Aprtments

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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.

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Justice for Historic African-American Communities

The ribbon cutting to open the new Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center took place on Oct. 6 in the Good Hope neighborhood of Silver Spring, Md. Local officials, residents and community members all gathered to witness the opening of the last of the four centers located in historic African-American neighborhoods to undergo renovations in Montgomery County.

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Silver Spring apartment complex explosion survivors demand better treatment from Montgomery County

Click “READ MORE” to see the video of the action.

– Nearly two years after the August 10, 2016 blast that killed seven people at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, survivors are demanding better support from the Montgomery County government.

Through advocacy organization Action in Montgomery (AIM), the group of survivors met to address their concerns Tuesday night at JoAnn Leleck at Broad Acres Elementary School.

Survivors told their stories about how they lost their possessions along with how they were physically and mentally scarred by the natural gas explosion. They said since the accident, they have been forced to pay higher rents, haven’t received adequate mental health treatment related to the trauma and that their opinions were left out of the 2016 county report that detailed the response to the tragedy.

Gustavo Zuniga spoke to the crowd, recounting how the roof fell inside his apartment, knocking him unconscious. He said the only reason that he is alive is because his wife was able to pull him from the rubble.

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Strong Commitments for Flower Branch Survivors

By Michelle Basch | @MBaschWTOP

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Nearly two years after a deadly explosion blew through the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, survivors have asked for more help as they continue trying to put their shattered lives back together.

The explosion and fire on Aug. 10, 2016, left 7 dead, dozens injured and dozens more displaced.

At a meeting organized by a group called Action in Montgomery and held at JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres Tuesday, several survivors described what they went through on the day of the tragedy, and what they’ve been dealing with since.

Maria Victoria Reyes said she was in her apartment with her daughter that night drinking coffee  when they heard a “rumble.”The ceiling fell down on them, covering them with burned debris and glass.

“My daughter and I could only see each other’s faces and the sky even though we were in the basement. We were covered up to our necks. We could not move,” she said in Spanish.

Victoria Reyes said the injuries she suffered left her unable to work even though she wants to provide for her family, and that it has affected her mental health.

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