AFSC's Maggie Fogarty helped produce the report on Manchester housing conditions.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
Rick Castillo of The Way Home uses photos to illustrate hazardous conditions in Manchester apartments.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
Jose Marte explained that his landlords did not address serious health hazards.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
Report highlights code enforcement failures and names four of the “worst” building owners in the City
The Granite State Organizing Project’s (GSOP) Manchester Healthy Neighborhoods Committee has found that unhealthy conditions in local rental housing are well documented in the City’s own records. In a report released on May 7, the group called for changes in city policies to address serious health risks faced by the city’s low-income tenants.
“The intent of this report is to bring attention to the conditions that we found, to ask the Manchester community to come together to focus on this problem, find solutions and most importantly, to bring hope and empowerment to our friends and neighbors who are suffering in poor housing and for their voices to be heard,” said Brian Mitchell, GSOP’s President, at a news conference May 7.
AFSC is a member of the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee.
The report, based on records on file at the city’s Building Department office, includes details of code enforcement failures, shoddy repairs, unsafe conditions, and unpaid taxes by four major landlords.
Rick Castillo, a healthy homes counselor at The Way Home, detailed the harmful health effects of low quality housing including lead poisoning of children, increased asthma, and possible exposure to toxins used to treat bed bugs. He showed photos of shoddy repairs to water leaks that lead to mold hazards and pest proliferation.
Jose Marte stood up at the news conference and stated, “I live in that apartment, thank you for helping my voice be heard, I did not know that anyone cared.”
The report calls for stepped up code enforcement, tighter lead standards to prevent childhood poisoning and other reforms, including creation of an office of tenant services in the City.
Susan Bruce, the report’s author recommended increased fines for code scoff laws, and also pointed out that the landlords profiled in the report owe back taxes to the City.
The GSOP will submit the report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on May 20.
Granite State Organizing Project is a coalition of religious, community, and labor organizations addressing the issues of affordable housing, jobs, and access to health care, quality education, and immigrant and refugee rights. The Healthy Neighborhoods subcommittee includes local clergy and congregation members, community residents, service providers, low income tenants and representatives of partner organizations, the American Friends Service Committee and The Way Home.