Wednesday Journal recently reported on Oak Park Apartments and a civil rights complaint against that property management company [Fair housing agency files complaint against Oak Park Apartments, News, Aug. 2]. OPA is accused of discriminating against Black women with any eviction record. Shocking? Hardly. I hope the Fair Housing Act gets in OPA’s face and forces mitigation on such a restrictive policy.
In this week’s Journal, there’s another report on complaints from new tenants of 855 Lake St. [Rehabbed apartment building isn’t living up to expectations, News, Aug. 9]. At issue is the property owner billing the rehab on that structure as “A comfortable living experience replete with amenities.” Evidently that includes broken locks, an unhoused person sleeping in a model unit, leaks and inoperable appliances. Shocking? Nah. Trending? Yes.
You may have heard about how expensive rental rates have become. These two stories may be a small sample size, but they are both about Oak Park properties and mismanagement. Trending.
Trending as in yesterday for the second time in recent months, I was compelled to file a complaint at village hall regarding what was once known as Mills Park Apartments. The relatively new owners (a national real estate operation who changed the building name to a laughably pretentious The Bryant at Oak Park) have left much to be desired.
During the first winter of its “management” the building had many residents complaining about a lack of sufficient heat. Cold radiators for hours on end on sub-freezing days. Their explanation: an adjustment to the furnace thermostat. Then re-adjust it already! There have also been numerous water shutoffs lasting 10 hours at a time. No working toilets for that long? Yuck. Not an emergency shutoff, mind you, or a village matter. They said it was to clear sewers, though they are seemingly unable to complete the job.
The most recent inconvenience is a notice stating how “excited” management is that they are going paperless. In other words, for those who prefer to still send in a check for monthly rent, they must now set up an online auto-pay account on the company website. This dictates providing personal data linked to a bank account. Maybe not a big deal for the digitally excited, but many people (myself included) try to avoid online transactions as much as possible. Can you say “data breach”? Like all websites, the property site can be hacked, the way my checking account was this February. What a headache!
Is there now a law that requires tenants to own a laptop, tablet or smart phone to conduct their finances? How did we ever do it before the digital age? Being denied the choice not to go paperless discriminates against such a reasonable preference. What about very elderly tenants who have very little digital ability? Meanwhile at The Bryant at Oak Park, perks such as yearly window washing and fitness equipment in the laundry rooms are eliminated. While rent rates head north.
Such arrogance and indifference — to paraphrase a great Haiku poem — is mounted against the windows like snow. Its drifts have packed me in.
Dirty windows at that.
Joe Harrington is an Oak Park resident.