Building a Better Future for The Serrano

June 24, 2021

Dear AHC Residents, Partners and Supporters,

We take the safety and well-being of our residents extremely seriously and we are working to build a better future for residents of The Serrano apartment building, which is owned by AHC Inc. and currently managed by one of our partners Drucker & Falk (D+F). In response to reports from some residents about unacceptable conditions in several units, AHC and D+F are working closely with the Arlington County Housing Commission, county officials, and community organizations, to ensure that residents’ concerns are not only heard but addressed as soon as possible.

We have made significant steps in addressing the challenges at The Serrano, but there is still much that needs to be done. The following is an update about the progress AHC and D+F have already made, as well as upcoming changes and improvements to the building’s infrastructure that are currently being planned at The Serrano.

ADDRESSING IMMEDIATE REPAIRS AT SERRANO

AHC is committed to investing in The Serrano and its future. To date, we have invested $500,000 in 2021 for immediate repairs at the community. AHC has also allocated up to $2 million of its cash reserves to conduct necessary repairs at The Serrano over the next 6 to 12 months.

Pest Control   

  • D+F has hired two pest management companies to comprehensively address the challenges. The primary firm, Environmental Pest, has completed its total seal and treatment of both buildings (12 apartments were not treated due to no access).
  • A second firm, Orkin, has done a complete walkthrough of the community and confirmed that Environmental Pest’s approach is effectively addressing the property’s needs.
  • Along with pest treatment, D+F has addressed pest issues by repairing and thoroughly cleaning trash chutes throughout the buildings.

Convectors

  • As of May 14, the property’s 600+ convectors were cleaned to industry standards and inspected for proper function (except for 10 apartments due to no access).
  • AHC and D+F also initiated a second air quality testing on June 16, which has been shared with the County and coordinated with the County’s environmental testing set.
  • D+F and AHC completed due diligence to inspect convectors to verify proper operation and D+F will replace units that are no longer operational.

Ventilation/Exhaust Ducts

  • By May 14, 2021, D+F completed its full inspection of the kitchen and bath exhaust systems. To date, D+F has replaced two of the exhaust system fan motors located on the roofs and repaired a third.
  • To further help to improve airflow throughout the buildings, AHC is hiring a firm to test and balance the ventilation system.

Balconies

  • AHC’s Construction Management team had a structural engineer review/inspect the balconies.
  • Having received the structural engineer’s report, we are now soliciting pricing proposals for any recommended work.
  • D+F has also repaired all identified broken glass panels.

Other recently completed maintenance

  • AHC and D+F installed new laundry equipment and flooring in laundry rooms.
  • Completed lighting survey and tree trimming to brighten property exterior. Additional lights are ordered and will be installed this summer.
  • Installed package delivery lockers to ensure security of delivered packages.
  • Repaired pool pump.

NEXT STEPS: NEAR-TERM PLAN OF ACTION

120-day repair plan

  • Based on the completed inspections, D+F is developing a 120-day plan to address individual apartment needs and the overall living environment throughout the property. 

Keeping residents informed

  • D+F completed full inspections of almost all The Serrano apartments (except 20 they were not given permission to enter). By July 15, 2021, each resident will have received a letter with the specific work that will need to be done in their apartment. Residents will be notified at least 48 hours before repairs are scheduled in their apartment. 

Accommodating residents during repairs

  • To minimize the inconvenience while repairs are underway, AHC will make 2 or 3 apartments at The Serrano available as temporary living arrangements. In addition, the community room will also be available for several families to spend the day.

 Helping families move, if desired

  • For residents who choose to move out of The Serrano permanently, AHC and Arlington County are working together to cover the majority of moving costs. Additionally, AHC is waving all fees for ending their lease.
  • The Serrano residents who want to learn more about this option can call Jeray Wilson of Housing Opportunities Unlimited at 202.977.8099.

 Expediting returns to The Serrano

  • AHC and D+F are expediting repairs for households who were temporarily relocated to hotels by Arlington County.
  • For any questions regarding this process, The Serrano residents can reach out to Nakia Brown at 703.253.7811 or nbrown(AT)druckerandfalk.com.

 Recognizing residents’ inconvenience

  • To acknowledge the residents’ challenges, we are crediting a payment to each household toward their July rent ($500 for studios/one-bedrooms, $750 for two-bedrooms, and $1,000 for three-bedrooms).
  • AHC is also providing $200 gift cards to all families who had to move to hotels temporarily so repairs could be completed in their apartments. In addition, families living elsewhere temporarily will not be billed for utilities while they were living off-site.

 AHC’S LONG-TERM COMMITMENTS TO ARLINGTON AHC RESIDENTS

 Simplifying utility payments

  • AHC is simplifying the utility system in response to residents’ concerns. Starting August 1, 2021, residents will be billed the same amount each month based on federal guidelines, according to the apartment size. AHC will make this system retroactive to July 1, 2020, which may result in rebates to some families.
  • The new utility billing system will be explained in more detail at the next resident meeting on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

 Amplifying resident voices

  • AHC will invite two residents, one from Arlington and another from across our portfolio, to join AHC’s 10-member Board of Directors at AHC’s Annual Meeting in October. If you are interested in being considered, please submit your name to endo(AT)ahcinc.org.
  • We are also committed to improving customer service and re-building trust. As such, D+F will continue holding monthly meetings with The Serrano residents to discuss any questions and concerns.
  • Customer service is our number one priority. If you are ever less than satisfied with the service you receive at The Serrano or any other AHC apartment community, we hope you will take the time to call AHC’s customer service hotline at 271.8425 to register a formal complaint. Our staff will be sure to follow up.

Planning for full-scale renovation

  • In addition to addressing residents’ immediate concerns, AHC plans to fully renovate The Serrano within the next three years. We will keep everyone updated as we determine exact timing and details.

We value your support and appreciate your patience as we make progress improving the overall living conditions at The Serrano. AHC Inc. is fully committed to making sure our residents have safe, healthy and quality homes. Working together, we know we can and will make The Serrano a wonderful place to live!

Sincerely,

AHC Inc. Board of Directors


May 20, 2021

Dear AHC Supporters, Partners and Residents,

We take the safety and well-being of our residents extremely seriously and we are working to build a better future for residents of The Serrano apartment building, which is owned by AHC Inc. and currently managed by one of our great partners Drucker & Falk. In response to reports from some residents about unacceptable conditions in several units, AHC Inc. and Drucker & Falk are working closely with the Arlington County Housing Commission, County officials, and community organizations, to ensure that residents’ concerns are not only heard but addressed as soon as possible.

So, what is AHC doing?

To move forward, we are redoubling our efforts and taking immediate actions to address residents’ top concerns:

  1. AHC Inc. has allocated $1 million to conduct necessary repairs at The Serrano in 2021, in addition to the $3 million we already invested in the property over the past three years. We are planning to invest another $2+ million in near-term capital repairs to improve residents’ living experience at Serrano.  To pay for this work, AHC will invest its own funds.
  2. Over the past few days, Drucker & Falk has completed more than half of its 100% inspection of the property (except for the apartments where residents have not provided access) to document and remediate all identified issues. Drucker & Falk is using special software to photograph and document conditions to create individualized action plans for each home and to hold ourselves accountable for the progress.
  3. AHC is working closely with Arlington County to respond to any residents’ interest in alternative living options. AHC is waiving fees and returning resident’s deposits. The County will help move belongings free of charge. More information.
  4. We have hired two pest control companies to treat the entire property. One company is searching and sealing for mice while the other is inspecting and re-checking the work.
  5. To address issues with heating and cooling convectors, AHC Inc. has expedited the spring maintenance schedule. All 639 convectors at The Serrano will be opened and vacuumed with a triple HEPA-filtered vacuum by the end of the month. All grille panels, evaporator pans, screens, and AC coils will be thoroughly cleaned.
  6. To continue building better communications and trust with our residents, Serrano’s new bilingual Resident Services office will be holding monthly bilingual resident meetings. Additionally, AHC Inc. will be administering anonymous surveys to provide residents an opportunity to confidentially convey their concerns, comments, and suggestions. Residents will receive a $25 gift card if they fill out the survey. We will repeat the survey in six months to track progress.

As pandemic restrictions are lifted, we look forward to making these repairs more quickly and will keep you up to date on our progress.

AHC Inc. is 100 percent committed to making sure our residents have safe, healthy and quality homes. We are proud of the 7,800 much-needed affordable homes AHC has created throughout the region, and we will continue to work hard to help our residents build brighter future.

Sincerely,
AHC Inc. Board of Directors