Beautiful to Broken Elevator to Bedbugs: My 17 Years at Acton Courtyard Apartment Complex


admin_general - Posted on 05 April 2021

by Leroy F. Moore, Jr.
Media statement re: 1370 University Ave., Berkeley
 

Beautiful to Broken Elevator to Bedbugs: My 17 Years at Acton Courtyard Apartment Complex

 
It was 2004-05 when I saw Acton Courtyard go up because I lived next door in a small studio and saw an empty lot grow into a beautiful state of the art large apartment complex. I was excited for a chance to go from a studio that was so small that I had to go outside to change my mind. I was new to Berkeley because, like many others, I was gentrified from the Mission district in San Francisco. I pulled all the strings to get an emergency housing voucher-- getting letters from the Mayor of Berkeley and from Representative Barbra Lee, and other housing advocates. Plus an agency for people with disabilities helped out a lot! I was one of the first group of people to move into Acton Courtyard and it was beautiful, clean, and came with cable, free wyfy and more. The beauty didn’t last as the property changed owners consistently. Original residents started to move out. That’s when the Equity Residential started to come after me, with notes and phone calls saying that I didn’t pay rent for months. After going through the hassle of dealing with my bank to prove that they were wrong then I realized another long-time resident was dealing with the same harassment. Then came the broken elevator in 2015 that lasted almost a month over the Thanksgiving holiday until we wrote an article in the Berkeley Planet and got a lawyer. That case took almost three years to settle. Our collective, sustained efforts strengthened local laws related to repairing elevators and the need for more inspections and notifications for residents when the work will be done.
 
Now, in 2021, my neighbors and I have seen a drastic cut back in the upkeep of the building--  spots on the dirty carpet, to dead plants, to racist stickers, and urine in the elevator. It has been a slow crawl to criminal malfeasance, which happens in buildings serving low and no-income tenants, by landlords who don’t care. I found out that the new owner sold the other properties that were nicer, compared to Acton Courtyard. Equity Residential tried to sell Acton Courtyard but no one wanted it. In 2016, I asked if I could transfer to another Berkeley unit before they sold them off. The landlord told me that it was an eight-year waiting list to just to transfer to another building. At the same time, I would come home from college campuses lectures from places like NY to Toronto and see a three-day eviction notice. It happened over and over again! Another change: was the so-called upper-class residents were leaving quickly. Acton Courtyard became a building for only low-income residents and that’s when the cut back of services in the building started, with firing the live-in manager, to keeping the carpet clean, and to letting plants die.
 
I know that the cut backs on of the upkeep of the building have led to the year-long outbreak of bedbugs that infested my apartment in Fall 2020. And because the landlord has not taken this outbreak of bedbugs seriously, I had to stay in a local hotel for almost a on my own dime and with help from friends. I started typing this from my second hotel stay in March 2021, because of infestation of bedbugs. Both times, my community, aka Poor Magazine and friend, saved me by helping me throw 95% of my clothes and furniture out and raise emergency funds to put me up in a hotel.
 
The I first time I was away from my apartment for almost two months between hotel and an offer from a friend to stay at her place. In turn, the landlord offered me $1500.00 to reimburse of my hotel stay and the contract they wanted me to sign said that Acton Courtyard did the heat treatment to kill the bedbugs. In addition, I must bring up that before my friend and Poor Magazine got me into a hotel, the landlord was rude to me and my sister. They told me that it was up to me to clean the apartment and get it ready for the treatment. When I reminded them that I have certain accommodations as a disabled person they told me that “maybe my family or in-home support person can help me clean”! Before I moved back in the first time, in January 2021, I called the city to come to inspect my place. The city inspector came and saw two bedbugs. On January 16, 2021 I moved back in my place and noticed that the landlord didn’t clean the carpet so. I hired a company to deep clean my carpets on my dime. Two weeks back in my apartment I noticed I was beginning again to itch then two bedbugs appeared on my white pillowcase. I stayed as long as I could handle it. Once again, my friends came in and got me to the same hotel in March, 2021. The city came out again and noticed bedbugs in their own traps that they pùt down in my apartment, plus two bedbugs on my bed. The company that my building hired to treat the bedbugs had this conversation with me:
 
Bedbug company guy: It’s getting better
Leroy: Look on my pillow
Bedbug company guy: But it’s only two and only in the living room
Leroy: But as you see there is nothing in the bedroom and I sleep in the living room where the city person found three in their trap and, as you can see on my pillow and sheet-- at least three!
Bedbug company guy: But Leroy, you have to admit it’s getting better!
Leroy: But, nevermind......
 
I started writing this on March 16th, 2021, my last night in the hotel. After not hearing from my landlord on when the treatment would be over and when would it be safe to move back in, I emailed to asked was the treatment would be done. They emailed me back to say, yes the treatment was done and it’s safe to move back in. Throughout this bedbug situation my friends and the organization Poor Magazine ay have not only put me up at a hotel but have helped throw away 95% of my clothing and furniture, buy and wash new clothes, but they also started a fundraiser and made sure I had food! As I make my way back to my apartment for the second time after being dis/misplaced, my confidence in my landlord to do the right thing, like treating the whole building or at least my neighbors, is on zero. So that’s why the only option is to write my story and also look for another place to live in Berkeley!
 
Hold Up, Hotel Living?
BA going for a Ph.D.
Krip-Hop worldwide &
Obama wanted me
Hold up, hotel living?
Nightmare is the american dream
Forget Ghost Busters I’m call The A Team
Never wanted white picket fence
Hold up I didn’t ask for hotel living
Yeah Stevie Wonder, take me to Africa
Krip-Hop in liberal media
Still have to rely on Go Fund Me
Still not enough, hold up another day of hotel living
BA going for a Ph.D.
Krip-Hop worldwide &
Obama wanted me
Hold up, hotel living?
Poverty industry
Keeping us down and chasing
That pieces of paper, white & green
Wanted to put Harriet Tubman on it, caught us dreaming
Tubman let two off, pop pop
Going back to the roots of Hip-Hop
Where we can see the raw politics & politicians' politricks
Hold up, hotel living
No room service
two stars there is a difference
Between Beverly Hills Inn & Holiday Inn in the Hood
Next room from me is I.C.E.with their sets of eyes
Hold up can’t go outside
COVI 19 & POLICE, is this my time
Going back home, rent free
No more hotel living
I was ready to go
He/She/They said “no it’s not your turn!
I look over you so you can continue your work!”
But hold up wtf, more hotel living
“You got to believe
Do you feel me
Leroy, this is nothing
You can handle this!”
Leroy F. Moore Jr.
3/14/21
 
March 19, 2021: Hold up! I go on Berkeley Tenants Union to speak to a lawyer. It cost five dollars to type questions then they gave me an option to get a call from a lawyer for $60.00 so I took it and paid them. That was yesterday still no call. WTF. You can’t tell me that the city is not in the pocket of the landlord.
 
I emailed the landlord to let them know that more bedbugs appeared after I returned. Their reply: “Those bedbugs you saw may be coming out due to the pesticide treatment. If we still see them two weeks from now, then it will be a problem. That’s why I would like to wait two weeks before setting the traps in your apartment unit.” The first time I returned to my place my neighbors said I looked healthier and I did notice that dark circles around my eyes were slowly disappearing.  The second time I returned to 1370 University Ave. and seeing bedbugs on my pillow, I decided to sleep in the bathroom-- sometimes in a chair and sometimes in the tub.  After a few days, I noticed my feet and my lower legs started to swell up. A friend offered that my feet were swelling because I was sleeping in the chair.  I had no choice but to return to my bed. To be clear: at the same time my landlord and a city employee told me that I was overreacting and just wait a couple of days and the bedbugs would be gone
 
Sleeping in the Bathroom
I didn’t want to write this song
It’s just not right it so so wrong
My bed has bedbugs
Sleeping in the bathroom, I need a hug
The city says it’s getting better
As bedbugs make a ladder
To get to my pillow
Eye to eye, as I kill it I have no sorrow
I’ll be sleeping in the bathroom tomorrow
Scratching the etch over and over
The city says it’s getting better
As they form a ladder trying to suck my blood
I didn’t want to write this song
It’s just not right it so so wrong
My bed has bedbugs
Sleeping in the bathroom, I need a hug
At night my bed they flood
Wake up in the morning and they are gone
I’m etching all day this is so wrong
Another night in the bathroom with a fat bong
Got to get high cause I can’t believe this is my life
Every month I still pay my rent on time
Slumlord I want to take your life
As The Coup’s song plays over and over
Have you tried sleeping in the bathtub
My skin I’m trying to rub
To smooth my bones as it hits fiberglass
Relief, finally, not scratching my ass
I didn’t want to write this song
It’s just not right it so so wrong
My bed has bedbugs
Sleeping in the bathroom, I need a hug
How did it end up like this
This is some bullshit
From the bedroom to the living room
Now sleeping in the bathroom
Leroy F. Moore Jr.
2:50 am 3/20/21
 
March 24, 2021: Knock! knock! yes it was my freakin’ landlord just now wanted to spary! Yeah, no notice, no nothing! I told them to send me so I can put it in my freakin’ calendar! WTF!
 
March 25, 2021: I just want to note that yesterday, March 24th, 2021 Acton Courtyard Apartments and the bedbug company knocked on my door to spray around my apartment. I told them to give me notice by email and to come back tomorrow. Today another knock on the door- it’s the bedbug company guy to spray. I said ok and he did. However, I never got that email to reschedule. Now I need to open windows and leave for some time so it can air out!
 
March 29, 2021: The reporter who visited Leroy’s apartment on March 21, 2021 called me to let me know that he found four bedbugs in his place (not in Acton Courtyard) this morning. As of March 30, 2021 I have not seen more bedbugs in my apartment at this time.
 
I’ve lived at Acton Courtyard for just about 17 years-- experiencing some good times, ongoing harassment from Equity Residential, and now bedbugs and throwing away 95% of my things and risking my health The handwriting is on the wall saying that I must continue my search for a new place to live in Berkeley! Me and the Krip-Hop Nation that I founded have big plans and we wan to continue our work in Berkeley, establishing a Krip-Hop Institute and becoming the Berkeley Poet laureate one day. So as you can see, I must remain in Berkeley.

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