We recently had an opportunity to visit several apartments at the Fields of Falls Church. We were stunned to see evidence of significant rodent infestation (dead mice on sticky strips), mold on the walls of the bedrooms, old and barely functioning appliances and broken doors and cabinets.
The Fields is a ten building complex of more than 100 rental apartments located in the heart of Falls Church. It is owned by Kettler— a large development, investment and property management company based in McLean.
The reason for the visit was to observe first hand the conditions that tenants at the Fields are dealing with on a daily basis and have been dealing with for years and to hear the concerns of tenants with children.
A number of children in the Fields complex suffer from asthma and other respiratory maladies that can be influenced by excessive mold on the walls and from rodent feces. Additionally, parents are truly concerned about their toddlers playing on floors of apartments infested with mice. All of this is documented with photos and testimonies of tenants.
The Fields apartments are not subsidized in any way but the units are more affordable than elsewhere. The tenants pay full fare ($1666 per month for 2 bedroom; $1396 per month for one bedroom) yet consistently meet with partially completed maintenance and false promises from Kettler management.
We talk about the importance of affordable housing in Falls Church yet we allow these unacceptable conditions to continue for hardworking people. The City has made some effort but apparently has little authority— mold and rodents are not in the city codes. We checked with the leasing office this week and the complex is 100 percent occupied— an owner’s dream.
Kettler has been contacted numerous times over the years but has shown little to no interest in rectifying these conditions. This is full profit with little to no maintenance.
As a wealthy, privileged community, there must be something we can do to ensure that our neighbors live with dignity in acceptable conditions!