D.C. attorney general asks court to mandate sale of crumbling Park Southern Apartments

(Photo: WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan has asked a Superior Court judge to mandate a foreclosure sale of the Park Southern Apartments, insisting that it is necessary to both settle past debts on the building as well as compensate tenants who have been forced to live in poor conditions.

According to a statement by the District of Columbia, the 350-unit apartment building in Southeast, offered as affordable housing to low-income residents, has been in failing conditions and disrepair for many years.

A group of tenants calling themselves the Park Southern Residents Council filed suit against the company that owns and operates the building recently. The District filed a motion with a judge to intervene in the lawsuit.

The District's complaint names as defendants the Park Southern Neighborhood Corp. and its president, Rowena Joyce Scott.

The complaint alleges that, "contrary to the corporation's nonprofit purposes, they have grossly mismanaged the Park Southern Apartments, falling far behind on mortgage and utility bill payments and allowing the building to fall into severe disrepair," the city's statement indicates.

According to the statement, a DHCD inspector paid an inspection visit to the building in May of this year and noted "defective fire extinguishing equipment; faulty water heaters; unsafe or non-working ventilation fans; defective electrical outlets; damaged floors; infestations of roaches, bedbugs, and mice; damp and cracked ceilings and walls; and broken bathrooms, among examples of deficient maintenance."

The District also alleges that Scott "subverted the nonprofit corporation's election procedures to gain control of its board, allowing her to arrange for her own appointment as a salaried property manager with a rent-free apartment."

One of the largest debts owned by Scott and the corporation includes $700,000 in back payments, interest and late charges owed to the District on a mortgage loan granted by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in 2006.

Nathan's office indicates that the District will seek to join the residents' council in electing a better board of trustees, should the foreclosure sale of the building go through and the necessary debts paid off and repairs made.

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