WASHINGTON INFORMER: In recent reports, The Informer shared concerns about rent increases in Laurel. But similar practices leading to rent hikes have allegedly been conducted by the same housing group, Schweb Partners LLC, in Bladensburg.
Residents of Quincy Village Apartments in Bladensburg said they’re seeing rents rise faster than wages or inflation while ownership remains slow in addressing housing maintenance concerns reported by tenants – something which one resident, Angelica Felix, said has become even more troubling.
City Councilwoman Jocelyn Route, who represents Bladensburg, said the main concern is that “the rent is now at market rate but the upkeep for the property is not up to par.”
“Maintenance requests have been ignored or not addressed, emails and calls are not being answered, and water is now being added into the cost of utilities,” she said.
Unaddressed maintenance concerns allegedly include broken HVAC systems, waste buildup and safety/security issues.
One senior resident, Gloria Johnson, lamented that her rent has recently doubled. Prince George’s Council member Jolene Ivey, who represents the area on the County Council, has been contacted to assist her.
A meeting held two months ago included representatives of Schweb Partners LLC, Bladensburg Mayor Takisha James, Route, Police Chief Tyrone Collington Sr., Bladensburg Code Enforcement officials and several residents of Quincy Village Apartments. Since then, issues have persisted and attempts at a follow up meeting with community residents have proven unsuccessful.
Some residents said they’re considering a rent strike to get their demands met, following the example of a two-month rent strike at the Westgate Apartments in Laurel earlier this year which led to a compromise between tenants and Westgate ownership.
When asked what steps county and state officials can take to ensure long-term rent affordability, Route said rent control based on an economic formula can protect residents as market rate is “very unpredictable” and there is currently no set local formula to determine what constitutes market rate vs. affordable.
Felix hopes there can be a change in how rental amounts are established.
“Rent control should be established based on the income of the residents,” she said.
Photo: Bladensburg Councilwoman Jocelyn Route, pictured here at City Hall, has been working with residents of Quincy Village Apartments. (Courtesy photo)