Residents of Residences at Woodlake in Los Angeles denounce 'deplorable conditions and constant harassment'
Residents of The Residences at Woodlake apartment complex, located in the Crenshaw area, protested what they call "deplorable conditions" for living and that are not resolved.
At the same time, an activist in favor of the tenant organization, Miracle McKinney, denounced an alleged physical assault and being handcuffed on the night of July 13, by a security guard, after she made a report of excessive noise from her neighbors.
According to protesters associated with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a group of homeowners and renters fighting to save their homes and preserve affordable housing for working-class families, they are asking the owners of The Residences at Woodlake "to stop putting tenants' lives and health at risk by refusing to repair the property," under standard conditions outlined by the City of Los Angeles.
The 276-unit building, located at 4555 West Martin Luther King Boulevard, is governed by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).
“Tenants are enduring hostilities from the building management company, threatened with eviction, living in moldy rooms, reduced services and some units are dilapidated,” says the third complaint written by Charles Williams and Charles Xu, ACCE representatives to the company that owns the building: FPI Management, Ethos Real Estate.
Indeed, La Opinión was able to verify that an apartment that is about to collapse and is barely supported by a few pieces of wood, a strong smell of humidity prevails in the carpeted corridors, several mailboxes are open and the correspondence of the tenants is visible.
During the demonstration, a neighbor who did not want to identify himself for fear of reprisals invited La Opinión to verify that they had been without hot water for several days.
In fact, a very old and large water heater was completely corroded and had a water leak. At the scene, a plumber from AG Plumbing of Anaheim was trying to repair the damage.
“Our main issue is addressing a guard assault on one of our tenants,” said Maxie “N,” a 71-year-old African-American who has lived in the apartment complex for two decades.
"We want management to notify security guards not to return to the property."
Maxie said that living conditions there have deteriorated substantially since he moved there 20 years ago.
“A repair order was made the day after a complaint,” he recalled. “We had professional staff, a professional maintenance company, and six workers; now there is no one."
Sergio Vargas, co-director of ACCE, indicated that abuses against tenants have multiplied throughout the city of Los Angeles because property owners "at all costs want to remove tenants in order to increase rent."
“When people start to organize to defend themselves, that is when the harassment and attacks escalate,” he said.
For his part, Eric Brown, spokesman for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), responded to La Opinión that said entity recently associated with the multifamily investment firm Ethos for the acquisition of Woodlake Apartments.
“We have just been made aware of the residents' concerns and are working with Ethos to investigate this matter,” he said in a written response, without citing the alleged physical assault of a female tenant by a guard.
Neither the apartment's management company, FPI Management, INC., nor the owners of Newton Patrol, Inc. returned calls from La Opinión for this story.
Woman is physically attacked
A noise complaint from her neighbor and a call to the apartment building's “courtesy patrol” led to an alleged physical assault on a tenant of The Residences at Woodlake.
Miracle McKinney, a 33-year-old single Afro-American woman, told La Opinión the incident that sent her to the hospital, bleeding from her hands and leaving bruises on both arms, after allegedly being assaulted by a security guard.
“It was around 11:00 at night and for more than an hour a neighbor was causing noise disturbances. I tried to call courtesy patrol to let them know about a noise complaint and file it with them,” Miracle said.
He said that, on the third call, a dispatcher answered, but he hung up the phone. Newton Patrol Inc., of Beverly Hills, was in the process of being evicted from the property.
The woman left her apartment to get help and approached courtesy patrol, whose officers, she said, "were really rude, unprofessional and resorted to name calling when I told them I was there to file a noise report."
One of the policemen instructed his partner to close the door and windows. They decided not to address the complaint.
She allegedly tried to prevent the window from being closed with her hand, while the officer warned her that if she touched him or the vehicle she would be arrested for assault.
“In two seconds he gets out of the vehicle and then handcuffs me, throwing me against the vehicle,” he recounted. “I hugged myself with one hand and yelled for help.”
At least nine residents recorded the incident and some demanded the release of the woman.
“The handcuffs were extremely tight, so I immediately had bruises and blood on my arm and was held for over an hour and a half,” Miracle said. "The police officer said that I had prevented him from leaving and doing his job, that I had assaulted him by reaching for the window and preventing him from closing it with my hand."
LAPD elements arrived on the scene. They assured Miracle that she was not in custody and that the building's courtesy patrol had no right to arrest her and would have to release her.
Agents from the LAPD's Southwest Division did not issue a report or offer him medical assistance.
That night, she had to go to Baldwin Hills — which is actually a traffic division — where the Southwest Division was called and an officer went to the mall to file the report, hours after she was released from an urgent care unit, where she was X-rayed and given pain medication.
“The doctors told me that they had the impression that the bruises on my arms and the bleeding on my hands must have been caused by excessive force,” said Miracle, who also reported that her alleged attacker approached her at 3:00 in the morning when she was taking some belongings from her car on Tuesday, July 17, before the public protest.
"He told me that he felt bad about what had happened, and that maybe we both had a temper problem," he said. "Now, I feel more insecure and it seems that these patrolmen are trying to intimidate the residents."
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