At the end of May, the District of Columbia’s Committee on Housing and Community Development held a public hearing on the “Rent Control Hardship Petition Limitation Amendment Act of 2015.” Hardship petitions allow building owners to claim before the court that they don’t have enough money to maintain their buildings and so need a waiver to raise rent on rent-controlled buildings. All too often these requests are rubber-stamped by an administrative judge without ever examining whether the financial need is real.
The 2724 11th Street NW Tenants Association around the corner from my house in Columbia Heights has spent the last four years fighting two of these hardship petition and default rent increases by owners who do not qualify as hardship cases.–Rose Marie Berger
Ms. Archie spoke eloquently at the public hearing. See her testimony below:
The Importance of Affordable Rent and a Decent Place to Live In D.C.
My name is Rosetta Archie and my son lan Archie and I have been living at 2724 11th Street, NW, for 25 years this December 28, 2015. We are citizens of this country and feel everyone should have affordable and a decent place to live. Here in Washington, DC, the rent has sky-rocketed to ridiculous amounts and it is just not fair nor reasonable.
About four years ago, we received notice that our landlords, the Parker family, had filed a petition, and that our rents would go up by 31.5% I thought they were trying to get us to move out of the building – there was no way we could afford to pay that. I think that they wanted tenants to leave so they could turn the building into condos, like they did with a building they own on T Street. Our property manager said we could have a nice building like that one if we paid the rent increase, but of the low-income tenants who used to live there could afford to stay!
Our landlords lied in their hardship petition. They weren’t putting any money into our
building. We lived in very bad conditions. Our ceiling leaks constantly and it’s collapsed several times, hitting me in the head and ruining my property. Security is very bad as well–there have been many attempted break-ins, but we don’t see investments to make the building safer.
Like many families, my son and I live on a fixed income because we both have disabilities, and we can’t pay the insurmountable rent increases and still have enough left over for the rest of our bills. The rent increase meant we couldn’t afford new shoes and clothes when we needed them.
No one seems to care but there is something wrong with the officials of the Metropolitan area. The powers that be of this city know what’s going on and when you see homelessness, children, mentally ill, and the elderly out on the streets, they have to realize that this is more than just wrong but not acceptable.
What we all want to have is affordable rent, decent places to live, and landlords that are fair, responsible, decent, caring, and want what is best for their tenants. No one is asking for more than this and it’s the principle that matters! What is due to each and every tenant that pays their rent on time and each and every month that’s owed. This is what I am asking for the tenants in my building and the DC residents that pay rent. Ellis Parker and Jennifer Parker are slum landlords at our building at 2724 11th Street and they don’t care! They just care about how much money they can make.
I support the proposal to cap provisional rent increases, because landlords shouldn’t be able to impose big rent hikes without more oversight. But there are more reforms we need: elderly and disabled tenants should be protected from the biggest rent increases, and slum landlords who violate the housing code should not be granted hardship petitions.
I appreciate you all listening to me today and I know that God is on our side and will help us get through this terrible time that each of us are dealing with. We will prevail because it is only right and it is fair for us all. Thank you and God bless!
Ms. Rosetta Archie and her son, Ian Archie, are members of the 2724 11th Street Tenants Association in Washington, D.C.