A number of tenants who live at The Vista Apartments in Ward 8 in southwest D.C. are experiencing what they say is a lack of care and maintenance at their facility that includes elevators consistently breaking down without timely repair and rodents roaming freely, while management offers no timeline when extermination services will be provided.
The Vista, known colloquially as the Wingate, had only one working elevator for 350 units in the 10-floor facility recently, according to Alisa Head, the president of the Vista Gardens Tenant Association. The Vista has three elevators for tenants. Head said one elevator has been out of order for three weeks. She said another elevator didn’t work for five working days and the lone working unit creaks when being used.
“We have seniors and people who are disabled who cannot move around like they need to,” Head said. “It has gotten so bad that some residents have called the fire department to have firefighters take them upstairs, sometimes 10 flights, to their apartments. Because the elevators aren’t working, people are literally stuck in their apartments.”
Head said even the freight elevator that tenants are not supposed to use, couldn’t be utilized because security personnel on the grounds didn’t have the key to open it.
Head said the dysfunctional elevators are the latest problems at The Vista, owned by CIH Properties, Inc. in Silver Spring. She said the building has “gone down” since the CIH took over the management of the building six years ago.
“CIH refuses to correct the ongoing problems here,” she said.
Head said water leaks in many apartments. Tenants have complained to her about pets in the building and how they seem to go about without their owners.
“You can own a pet in our building but things have gotten out of hand,” Head said. “We have multiple pit bulls in the building and they seem to roam around without their owners sometimes. The dogs in the building urinate and defecate in the hallways. Our building stinks when they do that.”
Head said criminal activity has increased noticeably but the security company hired to protect tenants and the property aren’t performing their duties.
“Crime has elevated,” she said. “It seems that the management company hires these “fly by night” security firms to work here. Some of the security guards are unprofessional. They flirt with tenants.”
Head said when a tenant reports a crime, the security guards say they will contact officers of the Seventh District of the Metropolitan Police Department to come by and investigate.
“But they hardly do anything about stopping crime here,” she said.
Gabriella Bond serves as the secretary of the tenants’ association. Bond said the rampant presence of rodents infuriates her.
“There are insects and rodents all over the place,” Bond said. “In addition to rats and mice, you have huge cockroaches and water bugs. You have cockroaches on the wall and cockroaches on the ceiling. There is an abundance of mice on the 10th floor.”
Bonds said the building has some pipes that have been there for decades. She agreed with Head that water floods throughout the building without any maintenance from the management company to fix the problem.
Head said her organization has reached out to their advisory neighborhood commissioner, Monique Diop, who lives in the building. Diop told the Informer she couldn’t comment at press time. Head said the office of D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s staffers have been contacted regarding the problems at The Vista. Additionally, she said her association has reached out to Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who serves as the chair of the Committee on Housing and Executive Administration “multiple times” with no response. Head said she has received assistance from tenant advocacy associations in the city.
The Informer reached out to CIH Properties for comment through emailed questions but the company made no response by press time.