Rep. Jimmy Gomez Urges Action From HUD to Improve Housing Conditions for Low-Income Seniors at Cathay Manor Apartments
Letter calls for urgent action to ensure residents of Cathay Manor have a decent, safe, and sanitary place to live as required under federal law
Washington, November 4, 2021 | Cameron Edinburgh (202-515-1301)
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge urging the Department to take immediate action to address substandard housing conditions impacting residents of the Cathay Manor Apartments in the Chinatown neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. The 270-unit, 16-story apartment building is home to low-income seniors, many of whom are Chinese immigrants.
“The safety concerns being raised by residents of Cathay Manor Apartments are extremely troubling and must be addressed immediately,” said Congressman Gomez. “It is unacceptable that any tenant should become trapped in their own home due to inadequate maintenance practices by management. For the elderly tenants of Cathay Manor, this is an issue of life and death. I’m calling for urgent action by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure the residents of Cathay Manor have a decent, safe, and sanitary place to live as required under federal law.”
In September, after troubling reports from Chinatown residents, the Office of Congressman Jimmy Gomez contacted HUD with concerns about the unsafe, unhealthy, and physically deteriorating conditions at Cathay Manor. Residents of the building cited insufficient building maintenance, pest infestations, and numerous building safety concerns. Residents also cited frequent and sustained elevator outages that prevent the elderly tenants from accessing food and medical services.
The letter can be read in full here and below:
Dear Secretary Fudge,
I write to express my urgent concern regarding the substandard housing conditions that jeopardize the health and well-being of residents at Cathay Manor Apartments (“Cathay Manor”) - a 16-story, 270-unit residential apartment building for low-income seniors in the Chinatown neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. I appreciate your commitment to ensure that every American has a safe, secure place to call home, unfortunately that promise falls short for the residents of Cathay Manor.
In September, after my office first received troubling reports from constituents, my staff contacted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to express concerns about the unsafe, unhealthy, and physically deteriorating conditions at Cathay Manor. For instance, senior residents are held captive in their apartments because the building’s elevators are inoperable for long periods of time, preventing them from accessing necessities like food or seeking medical attention. Reports of inadequate lighting, bug and insect infestations, exposed wiring, lack of hot water, and a prolonged closure of the communal laundry room are equally disturbing.
In October, after inspectors from the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) found the elevators hadn't been tested or maintained in compliance with the Los Angeles Fire Department's fire safety protocols, the City of Los Angeles placed the building on a "fire watch" and referred the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office for investigation.1 Less than a week ago, the City of Los Angeles issued 16 criminal counts against CCOA Housing Corporation and its CEO and President Gong (Donald) Toy for months of negligence. 2
Residents of Cathay Manor deserve a decent, safe, and sanitary place to live, as is required under federal law. According to organizers from the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED), the Department has failed to inspect the building since 2017, despite worrisome scores on previous inspections: 50c in 2017, 82b in 2015, and 65c in 2014. With this in mind, I respectfully ask that you answer the following questions:
I stand ready to work in concert with you and your team to ensure every resident of Cathay Manor has access to decent, safe, and affordable housing.