FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 11, 2023
Assefash Makonnen | firstname.lastname@example.org | (646) 629-7131
CITY OF ALEXANDRIA COUNCILMEMBER CALLS CONDITIONS AT SOUTHERN TOWERS “UNACCEPTABLE”; URGES LANDLORD, THE CIM GROUP TO TAKE ACTION
ALEXANDRIA, V.A. On September 22nd, City of Alexandria Councilmember Alyia Gaskins, issued a letter to CIM Group’s Principal and Managing Director of On-Site Property Management, Bethany Chang and Jerry Thomas (respectively), expressing her disappointment after a recent site visit at Southern Towers (a 5-building apartment complex in Alexandria, Virginia, owned by CIM Group). The complex has been the site of ongoing tensions between tenants and CIM, and has garnered the attention of national media, members of Congress, and now, local government officials.
On September 20, Councilmember Gaskins joined Vice Mayor Amy Jackson; Council members Canek Aguirre and Sarah Bagley; Stephen Koenig from the Planning Commission; and Christian Brandt from the Department of Planning and Zoning for the first official site visit of Southern Towers by city officials. Councilmember Gaskins also brought along her two children. The visit came about following tenants’ repeated requests for council to address the City’s affordable housing crisis, and center and prioritize the tenant experience as the City undergoes redevelopment planning.
In her letter, Gaskins shared a troubling moment during the visit when the group entered one of the units with mold. Upon entering the unit, Gaskins’ youngest child “began coughing so much that we had to exit the apartment.” The councilmember continued, “We also observed holes in walls and a major flood in the elevator. As a councilmember and mother, I do not want anyone living in conditions that compromise their health, safety, and stability. What we observed is unacceptable.”
Gaskins called on the CIM Group to take responsibility for the well-being of their tenants and address the listed issues “in an efficient and timely manner.” When asked about her decision to reach out to CIM, Gaskins responded, “Our residents brought these issues to my attention and I felt it was important to reach out and seek answers. As a city official, when the community raises concerns about the safety and habitability of their housing, I believe we have a duty to investigate and advocate for solutions.”
Gaskins’ letter comes just a few months after Senators Warner and Kaine issued similar calls to CIM to address concerns of tenants.
“We truly appreciate Councilmember Gaskins for her advocacy on behalf of the tenants at Southern Towers,” said Sosseh Prom, Housing Justice Director at African Communities Together. “No one should be forced to live in these conditions and it should not take government intervention to get landlords to meet the bare minimum requirements of providing safe housing. Tenants need bold and fearless leadership from the City of Alexandria to ensure that all residents have access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing, and we call on city officials to follow Councilmember Gaskin's lead and speak up for tenant rights.”
African Communities Together (ACT) is a national nonprofit dedicated towards improving the lives of African immigrants in the United States, and empowers African immigrants to integrate socially, advance economically and engage civically.