Congratulations, VOICE Arlington!
Thirty tenants and VOICE leaders turned out with yellow VOICE buttons Tuesday, December 17th, to emphasize to the County Board the need for continued oversight and monitoring of needed changes at the Serrano apartments.
This was just the latest round of a two-year organizing campaign that has resulted in physical improvements to the Serrano property and several hugely important systemic changes by the County, which incoming Board Chair Katie Cristol listed Tuesday night.
NEW SYSTEMIC CHANGES
1). The start in January of inspections of County-subsidized committed-affordable housing units. Inspections will start with 1,200 units in six aging multifamily properties.
2). Changes to the County's Affordable Housing Investment Fund process to ensure that a landlord/applicant has identified needed repairs and has a plan and access to funding to make them. The changes also incorporate mandated inspection and reporting requirements. In addition, a precedent was set by the VOICE Arlington team to win a pause in County funding to the landlord of the Serrano when repairs were not being done.
3). Examination of how the County can better support tenants in affordable-housing units. Ms. Cristol said these changes together will represent “a major body of work” for the County in 2022.
This would not have happened without VOICE and their sustained commitment to working with Serrano residents to get the safe, healthy living conditions they deserve. It's been a long journey aided by key allies. But VOICE was the consistent, persistent presence throughout the last two years, even through the pandemic.
The work continues. Problems persist at the Serrano, with physical issues due to the aging property and issues with management communication and respect. There are similar problems at other CAF complexes in Arlington. VOICE must continue work on their accountability campaign in 2022.