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'I don’t feel safe at all' | DC apartment fined $30K for infestation of 10,000+ mice

DC Councilmember Anita Bonds is exploring emergency housing options for residents of the 255-unit Southern Hills Apartment complex

WASHINGTON — Three-year-old Blessing Webb gave WUSA9 a tour of her apartment.

"It’s right there. Look. It’s right there," said Webb as she pointed to a dead mouse on a trap paper underneath her toys.

She added she wanted the mice to "go away" because "they’re scary."

"Things have been biting her really bad," said Blessing's mother Rayneese Webb. She shot video of the trapped mice, saying she’s spotted at least 30.

"I don’t feel safe at all. At a point in time, I started to get really bad headaches. I’ve been staying with my mother since August even when I come home to grab clothes, I get really bad headaches," added Rayneese Webb

Apartment management paid for temporary housing according to the family. But they say the first repairs to the apartment walls made no difference.

Credit: James Hash
3 year old Blessing Webb finds mice among the toys in her apartment

Multiple residents of Southern Hills Apartments on 4th Street Southeast complained through the summer to DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

DCRA fined apartment management  $30,934 thousand dollars after four inspections found rodents.

Credit: Rayneese Webb
Mice trapped at a unit in Southern Hills Apartments, SE Washington

Residents reached out to DC Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large)

"[DCRA] informed me that their professional assessment of the building, that there are seemingly over 10,000 rodents living within the walls and around the unit," said Bonds. "Most likely, if we have to move the families, put them in emergency housing, we will do that. Because you know, we don't want babies being bitten."

Credit: James Hash
3 year old Blessing Webb with her mother Rayneese at Southern Hills Apartments in SE Washington

Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8) tells WUSA9 News, "I have been to the property several times for complaints. We are in communication with the owner, DCRA, and OAG who has complaints on the property. The owner has been seeking government assistance to renovate the property. These residents deserve to live in decent living conditions and we will keep pressing the issue with owners until this happens."

Southern Hills apartment management says neighborhood construction activity and a history of rodent infestation in the area are to blame. It installed bait boxes in the past two weeks, and pledges to fix the rodent problem by December by treating and sealing up entry points. It set aside $1.8 million dollars for repairs.

"After more than 70 years of occupancy, the buildings at Southern Hills are obsolete from a physical plant and design perspective. That is why we began planning to completely redevelop the site seven years ago. Working in partnership with the Southern Hills Tenant Association, Inc. (SHTA), we have won approval for a redevelopment plan that will improve the quality of life of tenants over the long term, replacing all 255 existing apartments, creating 94 new apartments to help address the District’s affordable housing crisis, and building a 25,000-square-foot community center to bring important services to the community’s front door," said spokesperson Ed Cafasso.

Credit: James Hash
Southern Hills Apartments in SE Washington

Management says the new apartments will remain “low-income Section 8” housing without rent increases.

There’s a community meeting this Monday at 6:00 p.m. for Southern Hills apartment residents at Atlantic Gardens Community Center at 4214 4th Street, Southeast to find out how the renovations and relocation will affect them.

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