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Our 2nd Letter to Hamilton - Zanze

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

Emailed to Mark Hamilton on June 3rd, 2021.

Dear Hamilton-Zanze,

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you on May 11th. It was a very informative meeting. We look forward to the opportunity to meet again this month. We are writing to convey our questions, thoughts, requests, and expectations for that meeting.

First we want to convey our concern and confusion about a remark made by Hamilton-Zanze at the meeting pertaining to upgraded units, which implied that upgrading our units would be voluntary. Does this mean the higher rents associated with upgraded units will also be voluntary? We are confused because all of us are receiving aggressive rent increases this year, and yet for many of us our paint is shabby, our carpets and windows haven’t been cleaned in years, and our appliances are old and barely functioning. (Under previous ownership when we signed our new leases we would be rewarded with a carpet cleaning or other incentive, but that stopped under Mission Rock.) The rent is going up, but the quality is going down.

Moreover, because all of us are low-income, many of us are already severely cost-burdened; these rent increases are much higher than the meager increases to the social security we live off of. Many of us are already being forced to make hard choices to be able to pay our current, “affordable” rents, because the rent eats first. We heard Mark speak to his and Hamilton-Zanze’s deep commitments to “outcomes”; what is the desired outcome of exacting the maximum allowed rent increase on low-income seniors without any improvements in return? Is the outcome you’re hoping for that we’ll just move out? It feels that way. Those of us who receive our Meals on Wheels—the organization your corporation proudly supports—won’t be able to get our meals delivered when we are priced out of the homes we are confined to.

As a show of good faith and demonstration of your commitment to good outcomes, we are asking you to reconsider this year’s rent increases and rescind them at this time to prevent further displacement and economic hardship for your aged, low-income, residents. This would be consistent with neighboring apartment communities, such as King City Apartments, who haven’t issued rent increases this or last year because of COVID. We further ask that for those of us who have been here for years, already paying hundreds more than when we moved in and not receiving any improvements in return: We’d like the windows to be washed, our carpets to be cleaned, and a new coat of paint or other reasonably requested improvements consistent with turned units, for those who request it. In addition, bring back our community events and the community computers in the office for those of us who do not have internet or computer access at home. That said, we also request that the community center be available as it was prior to HZ’s purchase of the property: from 8 am to 10 pm seven days a week, with appropriate safety and security restrictions.

Also, we want to reiterate our concern and firm request that the building be returned to senior and affordable status. As consumers we made a conscious choice to live here based on the advertised offerings: An affordable, senior, community.

Affordable housing is scarce, to be sure, but senior affordable housing is even more rare and it was the driving reason why we decided to make our home here. Whether we moved in decades ago, or in the last year, none of us were told that the age restrictions could end at any time (nor that the affordability would expire and we’d be forced to uproot ourselves). While the decision to let the affordability expire is one of dollars and cents, we do not understand why your board and investors decided to end the age-restrictions at Woodspring this year, and we are desperately requesting this decision be reversed as soon as possible.

Of course we will be good neighbors to those under 55 who have recently made their home here, but please understand how dramatically our sense of peace, safety, security and community will be compromised by young children running and jumping on the walkways and floors above us, and the comings and goings and loud social events of younger folks in the complex. Surely the dependability, responsibility, and quiet lifestyle of seniors is good for your bottom line, and the increased hassle and liabilities of an all-ages complex isn’t?

Finally, with regards to the long term affordability of the complex: We want to convey our expectations for more concrete information and next steps about this at our June meeting with you. We understand that getting the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted may take a lot of time. But a firm commitment from you that we will be able to age in place here, at affordable rents, is something you can offer now. The rents you charge us and the yearly increases is a choice, not a mandate. It’s a choice between maximizing your profits and the good outcomes on the ground with the humans who are writing those rent checks every month. We need to hear that you are willing and committed to do whatever it takes, even if it means this property won’t “perform” as you initially projected when you acquired it. We are more than numbers in a portfolio. We are grandparents and great grandparents, we are widows and widowers, we have worked hard all our lives and many of us still do -- in some cases working second jobs bagging groceries just to pay the rapidly increasing rent. We are alarmed that upgraded units in this complex are currently renting for $1600 / month and are sick to our stomach about what that means for us in 2.5 years. We need to hear from you, this month, that you are going to reverse the decisions that will otherwise make hundreds of us homeless. You have a corporate responsibility to the community that supports you -- that made you what you are.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We look forward to meeting with you again this month. Our final request in this correspondence is for you to reply with a proposed date to meet again. This meeting can either be similarly formatted to the May meeting, with as many tenants present as want to attend, or with our 13-member organizing committee (see P.S.).

Sincerely, Woodspring Tenants Association

P.s. We’d like you to again remember that the property you procured is home to hundreds of aged, medically vulnerable seniors. Our age and fragile health needs to be foremost in your mind of every decision you make. We understand that you changed the venue for our previous meeting because the picnic area would be too loud, but then the result was that most of us were unexpectedly sitting under the heat of the direct sun, at high noon, without sunscreen because we left our homes believing we’d be in the heavily shaded picnic area. Many of us suffered sun burns. We hope that this will be taken into consideration for our next meeting, and also that if we meet in a large group that you will pay to provide a sound system rather than that being provided at our personal expense.


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