The Latino advocacy group CASA de Maryland has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of tenants at two sprawling Langley Park apartment buildings in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
According to the lawsuit, neglect by the owners of the 589 apartments in the Bedford Station and Victoria Station buildings has created hazardous and unsanitary conditions.
The lawsuit said the vast majority of residents are Latino and other minorities whose complaints about vermin, mold and broken appliances have gone unanswered for years.
“For more than a decade, we have been trying to speak to the owners and managers of this property to work together to improve the property conditions, and our pleas have continued to fall on deaf ears. We do not want slumlords in Langley Park,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA executive director, in a release.
“We do not want an out of state property owner who intentionally divests from our community because of our country of origin or the language we speak. We do not want this Real Estate Investment Trust, Arbor Management Acquisition Company, to think that they can enrich their investors on the backs of the women and children who live in the apartments they own. We demand dignity.”
The Arbor Realty Trust, Inc., based in New York, has been listed as the main defendant. The case has been filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
“I am suing today because I have lived in my apartment for more than 10 years, and my rent keeps increasing — but they never fix anything that’s broken,” said Maria Lara, one of the plaintiffs listed in the suit, whose apartment is allegedly contaminated with mold and infested with insects.
“With so many bathroom leaks and mold, mice and rats, I am worried about my daughter’s health and wonder if she’ll catch an infection one day. The question I ask the landlord is: would they live in these terrible conditions? Do they think they can get away with this because we’re poor, because we’re immigrants, or because we don’t speak English?”
In CASA’s release, Calvin Hawkins, at-large member and chair of Prince George’s County Council, said he stands “in solidarity with the tenants” of the apartment buildings.
“During a time when working families are still climbing their way out of the implications of the pandemic, the home is a place that provides a safe haven. Healthy and safe standards of living should be maintained no matter one’s residential or immigration status.”
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.