Montgomery County housing inspectors will examine every unit at a high-rise Silver Spring apartment complex that some county officials say has had problems with mold and vermin.
The inspections of the Enclave Silver Spring — a 1,119-unit, three-building high-rise complex in White Oak — were announced Tuesday by County Executive Marc Elrich (D), who took office in December and has pledged a stronger focus on housing and tenant protections.
Elrich had heard about mold and other issues from several Enclave tenants at listening sessions he held around the county after his election. He later said hearing their complaints was “embarrassing and humiliating.”
In September, the county inspected about a quarter of the units at the Enclave, finding 367 violations, with 60 of those relating to health and safety problems such as mold, smoke detectors and vermin. Of the 262 apartments inspected, more than half, 151, had at least one violation.
County Council member Tom Hucker (D-District 5) wrote to the housing agency after the September inspection, calling the conditions at the Enclave “deplorable” and asking for all the apartments to be examined.
“If you find that number of violations in a small number of units, why would you stop” inspecting, Hucker said in an interview Tuesday.
Messages left for Enclave representatives were not immediately returned Tuesday. Last year, the county received 118 complaints at the complex, up from a total of 41 over the previous four years.
In a statement, Elrich said he had directed the Department of Housing and Community Affairs to conduct the 100 percent inspection. “It is unacceptable to live in such conditions,” Elrich said. “I appreciate the DHCA working with partners to make these inspections happen quickly and showing responsiveness in stepping up the inspection process.”
The executive has made no secret of his displeasure with former housing director Clarence Snuggs, saying the department under Snuggs’s leadership did not do enough to comply with 2016 legislation Elrich sponsored as a council member that was supposed to increase inspections of problem properties.
The bill — co-sponsored by Hucker and current council President Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) — was approved in November 2016, having gained renewed traction after a deadly gas explosion and fire ripped through the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring three months before.
Tim Goetzinger, acting DHCA director, said 14 housing inspectors fanned out through the Enclave on Tuesday, with plans to return this week to finish inspecting the rest of the units in the complex, which was built in 1966.
He said the building’s management company has been cooperative.
“I met with a member of their executive leadership team today, and he assured me as soon as we can communicate the violations that we find this week, they’ll be on it,” Goetzinger said. “I am as confident as I can be that they will be responsive.”