The San Jose nonprofit is charged with apartment bed bugs and mold

Zack Anderson only pays about $ 350 a month thanks to housing grants from a local nonprofit – but not for the past eight months.

He said he withheld payments because his apartment in South San Jose was infested with bugs and mold and needed urgent maintenance.

The condo is managed by Downtown Streets Team, a San Jose-based nonprofit that provides housing assistance and other services to low-income and homeless people across the Bay Area while empowering them to volunteer to help their peers. Anderson previously volunteered with the group.

“Downtown Streets Team is a great organization. You help a lot of people get off the street, ”said Anderson. “But I decided I wasn’t going to pay my rent anymore because of the bug problems and all the bug bites I had, and just because of the general abomination of the apartment.”

Chris Richardson, director of program operations, said Anderson brought him the latest concerns just days before contacting San Jose Spotlight, and management has not seen any pest infestation since the building was fumigated about a year ago.

They’re also investigating Anderson’s claims of mold, mildew, and other maintenance issues. A mold inspector hired to inspect the apartment on Monday concluded that there was no mold, according to Richardson.

“(Anderson) has raised other concerns all along, not necessarily about the apartment. (He was talking) about mold and the broken window upstairs that we’re already having repaired, ”he said. “The only reports we’ve received from the 12 units … are from Zack’s room.”

Zack Anderson has had stable apartments since February 2019 when the San Jose-based not-for-profit Downtown Streets team subsidized most of their monthly rent at the South San Jose apartment building. Photo by Vicente Vera.

The San Jose-based nonprofit paid most of the cost of Anderson’s room, along with a handful of other newly housed renters, to help end the homelessness.

Since moving in in February 2019, Anderson has said his two-bedroom apartment was fraught with trouble, and he’s never been shy about letting people know how he feels. But he was reluctant to pass on his complaints to the media.

The Downtown Streets team gave Anderson a roof over his head. He said he did not want to strain relations with the people in the organization, but the conditions in the apartment still fell short of his expectations. Although he said he had the money, Anderson won’t make any rent payments until he’s satisfied with the answer.

Zack Anderson claims the brown stains on his ceiling are mold, the result of water seeping through his upstairs neighbor’s floor. Photo by Vicente Vera.

Typically, according to Glenbrook Apartments, which rents the units, his flat share would cost around $ 2,599 a month.

Over the years working together in the Downtown Streets team’s office, Anderson and Richardson developed a mutual respect for one another. The affection showed in a phone call between the two in the days after Anderson dumped his complaints.

Anderson told Richardson that a reporter was sitting next to him in his room and asked if he could put the call on speakerphone. He said yes.

“First you know that I love you guys. You saved my life and I don’t want it to come to that, ”said Anderson. “You know I want to pay my rent. I want to be able to live here. But I can’t live here, we have cockroaches and bed bugs. “

Richardson said management, like everyone else in San Jose, had fought bed bugs for years. Reports of bed bugs have increased in recent years, according to Santa Clara County.

It’s something that shouldn’t be dealt with, he continued, and he thinks about another bugcheck to appease Anderson.

But it’s not just about eradicating the bugs. Anderson said the point is to make sure they don’t return – which means some of his neighbors are more hygienic and throw away their rotting trash and food.

Management can’t force tenants to shower or throw away food, Richardson said, and some of the folks at Downtown Streets Team Houses are still adapting to new life situations and the lifestyle changes that come with it.

Anderson’s roommate, who just wanted to be identified as Roger, said he agreed with Anderson that there was mold and mold in the building.

“S- is going apart in here,” said Roger. “The answer (management) to me was, ‘There is nothing wrong with the apartment, (management) will get the funds to fix it.’ Mold is still coming out of my damn air conditioner because there is mold behind the drywall in my room. “

Anderson’s roommate Roger said the gap above the kitchen cabinet was due to it being pulled from the ceiling. Photo by Vicente Vera.

Although an apartment building manager at the San José Apartment Building told Spotlight that Roger had asked Reporter not to enter his apartment, Roger denied the allegation and gave his approval for photos and entry to his room.

While Richardson said he was sending people out to fix the window and put in a new carpet, no faults had been found in the building since the last inspection.

“We did a lot of work in most of the apartments. I don’t know what the story is here, (but) it feels very, very unfair. You know? It feels like a grudge, ”said Richardson.

Contact Vicente Vera at [email protected] or follow him @vicentejvera on Twitter.

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