PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The tenants of an affordable housing building in Northwest Portland are protesting against their landlords — and their poor living conditions.
The Yard Apartments are owned by Home Forward and managed by Income Property Management. The building is designated as affordable housing for people making 60% or less of the area median income. The 158 households include elderly residents, veterans, people with disabilities and people who were previously without a home.
According to residents, security and building conditions have steadily grown worse after IPM took over management duties in 2013. Tenants said that their repair requests and reports of mold and vermin have gone unaddressed for months.
“Black mold, rats and cockroaches, people that don’t live there urinating in stairwells and elevators,” resident Brian Jackson told KOIN 6 News.
The unhealthy conditions tenants describe as well as the chronic security concerns have them living in fear.
“What tenants are experiencing there is very poor living conditions, a real lack of safety and unfortunately, a lot of gaslighting and intimidation from management,” Anthony Bencivengo, with Portland Tenants United, said.
Volunteers with Portland Tenants United and the Tenants Union @ the Yards have been trying to resolve the issues with management for months — but little to nothing has changed, according to them.
Tenants said they want to live with dignity and they want their managers at Home Forward to resolve these problems now.
Home Forward said it has done a number of things to “enhance the safety and security of the residents at the Yards,” including relocating the main entrance, installing prop alarms to prevent doors from being propped open, installing 31 cameras on the property, started a 40-hour a week security presence and met with Portland police for public safety training.
A spokesperson for Home Forward also said they are in the process of disabling a guest buzzer to limit uninvited guests, making the door close faster to avoid uninvited people following residents in, adding 13 more security cameras in early 2019, enhancing interior window security and looking into the possibility of upgrading fencing around the property.
They also addressed pest control and mold concerns, saying IPM inspected the building as per-requirements and did not find any black mold. They said IPM coordinates monthly pest control tours and hire pest control services as needed.
The spokesperson released a statement, which reads in part:
We are aware of resident concerns at the Yards about security, pest control, and uninvited guests at the property.
We take the safety and health of the people we serve very seriously and we have been engaged with residents at the Yards for many months in an effort to improve security at the property and in the surrounding neighborhood.
After receiving feedback from some residents at the Yards about security and safety issues, as well as issues with IPM and the contracted security companies we have hired, Home Forward staff have had numerous phone conversations with tenants at the Yards and we met with residents at the property on August 7th, August 11th, August 20th, and on September 28th.
We will continue working with residents to improve the health and safety of the Yards but the accusation from Portland Tenants United that we respond with words and no action, is just not accurate.
Read the tenants issues and demands below