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Hispanic renters at two Langley Park apartment complexes sued their landlords in federal court Monday, alleging violations of federal housing discrimination laws over what they say are inhumanely disgusting living conditions because the property owners have failed to make required repairs.
The apartment complexes are the 488-unit Bedford Station, located at 1400 University Boulevard, and 101-unit Victoria Station, located at 1407 Merrimac Drive, in Langley Park. Through holding companies, both apartments are ultimately owned by Arbor Realty Trust, a New York-based real estate investment firm. Representatives for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Route 1 Reporter.
The suit was brought by CASA, a Langley Park-based immigrant civil rights advocacy group, on behalf of eight residents living in the complexes.
The suit alleges the apartment owners engaged in a systemic pattern of boosting their income by buying apartment properties in low-income areas and performing minimal – if any – maintenance on the properties.
The suit alleges a pattern of poor maintenance of Bedford Station and Victoria Station, including inadequate waste facilities, piles of trash, pest infestations, mold, broken appliances and deteriorating fixtures. CASA’s full lawsuit can be read below this article.
In all, Arbor and its subsidiary holding companies own 11 apartment properties in Prince George’s County. CASA’s lawsuit notes that all of the apartment complexes are located in low-income areas with predominantly hispanic or black populations. The lawsuit also notes that online reviews for these other apartment complexes reveal similar complaints over poor maintenance and inhuman living conditions.
The lawsuit goes on to note how Arbor maintains its holdings in richer, whiter neighborhoods, or neighborhoods undergoing gentrification. It notes, for example, renovations undertaken on an Arbor apartment complex in a majority-white community in San Antonio, and luxury rents charged for a planned apartment complex in New York City’s Chinatown. The suit alleges Arbor officials found these properties “worthy of rehabilitation and maintenance because of changing demographics and a more ‘desirable’ community.” That, CASA argues, amounts to intentional discrimination against its poorer, browner residents.
“The disparities in maintenance and capital investment between Arbor’s properties cannot be explained by non-racial factors,” reads the lawsuit. “Arbor’s focus on investments in ‘rapidly changing’ communities that are located in more ‘desirable submarkets’…bears more heavily on minorities than it does on majority white communities.”