Leaking faucets, holes in the floor, and rats running across children's feet at night. An apartment manager refusing to start repairs without proof of US citizenship. These are just some of the conditions that leaders of Bachman Lake apartments, like Iris Romo and Ericka Ventura, unearthed in a neighborhood conversation campaign.
When tenant leaders at Lumin Bachman Lake Community School began to share these stories, the city didn't take them seriously. However, Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) leaders knew that this was unacceptable. After all, they had been instrumental in the development of housing standards that were now being violated. In 2016, DAI had compelled the City of Dallas to impose these standards, and the tenant leaders had been a key part of that effort.
DAI Tenant Leaders Deepen Cooperation with Code Enforcement, See Noticeable Improvements in Housing Conditions
DAI tenant advocacy for improved conditions in low-income Bachman Lake apartment complexes continues to pay off, partly due to increased collaboration with bilingual housing code inspectors. Spanish speaking Dallas Area Interfaith leaders have been at the forefront of action, including meetings with City officials and educational meetings with residents.
Reporting bad landlords who won’t fix apartments to maintain adequate living conditions should be easier for Dallas tenants, especially for those who are the most vulnerable because of their economic or immigration status.
It has been a little over a month since this newspaper reported the hazardous conditions endured by Bachman Lake-area tenants, including moldy walls, pest infestations and leaky roofs. This is not a case of “they get what they pay for.” Residents said they are paying up to $1,400 a month, close to the rent average in the Dallas area.
For these tenants, most of them with limited English skills, navigating the city’s bureaucracy to report code violations has been frustrating. They said they rarely see results. “We are not living for free; we are paying,” Bachman Lake resident [and Dallas Area Interfaith leader] Claudia Cruz, 38, told us.