at The Grand Apartments of Everett cry foul on new owners
EVERETT — Residents of The Grand Apartments, already facing a rent increase by the property’s new owners, Dimension Townhomes, LLC, claim they are now being evicted after complaining to the City of Everett about possible noise and safety violations.
In July, residents of The Grand Apartments on 2331 Rockefeller Ave. (corner of 23rd and Rockfeller) were given a notice of new ownership for their building and an Oct. 1 rent increase of almost double to triple what they had been paying. On Sept. 2, they were given a 60-day eviction notice.
Safety concerns and noise complaints compelled Stephen Teixeira, a 52-year-old care provider and 16-year resident of The Grand, to create a YouTube channel named “Rockefeller Friends of Grand Apts” to document their issues during renovations.
Teixeira claims a Dimension maintenance worker said, “Well, I better fix that right now before some a--hole here complains again to the city that we are trying to kill everybody!” when told the hall light timers needed adjustment. Later that day, Teixeira said, “we came home to eviction notices on our doors,” not hand-delivered as noted on the form. The Tribune confirmed other residents received notices, too.
Teixeira said that “the about-face and sudden eviction is happening because of our complaints to the fire marshal and code enforcement.” City fire marshals have visited multiple times in response.
Employees of Dimension Property Management declined requests for comment. The owners of Dimension Townhomes, LLC and Dimension Property Management did not respond to requests for comment.
Some residents are disabled and cannot afford to pay more for housing as they have a fixed income and few options. With rents ranging from $400 to $630 a month, including water and garbage, the tenants could live on a meager income. The new owners increasing the rent to $895 a month and $95 for utilities on Oct. 1 put that ability in jeopardy. According to the state Office of Financial Management, median house prices trended upwards in 2020, increasing by 13.7% during 2019 and exceeded 2009 values by 80.7%, making the struggle for affordable housing greater.
When asked why he sold the building after 26 years, the former owner, Manfred
Bleisteiner, said, “I’m in my early 60s. It’s time to move on.” He said he never raised the rent because he didn’t have to.
Now, the residents aren’t given a chance to try and make the new rent. On Sept. 2, one month before the Oct. 1 rent increase, all residents of The Grand had eviction notices taped to their doors, giving them 60 days to vacate, according to Teixeira. The apartments are rented on a month-to-month basis rather than a yearly lease, meaning the landlord can renew or decline a lease monthly rather than annually and is only required to give a 20-day eviction notice —also known as a no-cause notice.
“I’m not worried about me. Some of the people here are severely disabled,” said Teixeira. That’s not to say he doesn’t have concerns of his own. As a care provider, Teixeria needs to be close to his clients. He explained that if he had to move to Arlington or Mount Vernon, he can’t help some of his clients due to the distance. In fact, Teixeira lives in the same building as his client, Mark Wiggen.
Wiggen, 57, was a bookseller before having a stroke. He moved into the building after his girlfriend died of cancer in 2017. Currently, disability benefits pay for his $600 a month rent and his care provider, but not much else. Wiggen said, “I might be able to stay a month or two at the most with the new rates.” Wiggen explained that he could stay if Dimension kept his rent to $800 a month or lower.
For Ron Groves, 63, who has lived at The Grand for more than 30 years, $800 a month would leave him with nothing. Groves was born with cerebral palsy, had cancer in his early 20s, was diagnosed with hepatitis C in his 30s and diabetes at 48. He only receives $800 a month through disability and social security.
The structure, being built in 1928, has been showing its age. The front and back doors don’t secure properly; there are pipe leaks from time to time, a non-functioning fire escape with a warning sticker on the windows reading, “NOT A FIRE ESCAPE.” Cooking for a group of people is challenging, according to Teixeira. He said you have your choice of using the stove, the oven or the microwave, but not at the same time, or you’ll trip the electrical breaker. Issues with the circuit breakers can be seen in one of Teixeira’s videos.
The building is about a mile-and-a-half from the EvCC and WSU-Everett campuses and less than a mile from the heart of Everett’s downtown.
For the long-time residents of The Grand, the renovations aren’t improving their homes, it’s making them find a new one.
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