letters to the editor

Lansing residents deserve safe homes

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Lansing officials are allowing landlords to rent out homes without any regard for safety codes or regulations. In 2020, the city issued pink tags to more than 800 apartments in Lansing, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal.

Two years later, nothing has changed. In fact, residents are paying hundreds of dollars for apartments infested with rats, cockroaches, mice, exposed wiring, holes in the walls or ceilings, leaking plumbing, lack of running hot and cold water, functioning toilets and smoke alarms that don’t work. Landlords are making profit off of others’ poverty and desperation, collecting rent for properties in which no one should have to live. This is immoral, inhuman and un-American.

Where is the red line? When will city officials intervene? When will we see accountability?

Lansing residents have been very, very vocal. However, those pleas seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Our local government has no plans to address this issue. Landlords have refused to make the necessary repairs and families are forced out onto the street. America is a First World country, but Lansing residents are treated as Third World citizens.

I know what a Third World citizen treatment looks like. I was born in a Third World country. Anyone who thinks they are doing a good deed by providing slum housing to Lansing residents is highly mistaken. In fact, they are causing more harm and disservice than good. We have many homes in low-income areas that are dealing with an abundance of lead in paint and plumbing. Lansing will become the new Flint if changes are not implemented properly and urgently.

We must hold landlords accountable and educate Lansing residents of their rights and responsibilities. We must require landlords to pay for all relocation costs for tenants who are temporarily displaced because of code violations. Our local government needs to help displaced families find homes by creating an affordable housing trust fund. This trust fund would allow our city to build more affordable housing and it would give tenants an opportunity to find safer homes in case they are temporarily displaced because of code violations. No one should be at the mercy of slumlords. This needs to be a priority for Mayor Andy Schor and the Lansing City Council. Lives are at stake!

Farhan Sheikh-Omar

Lansing

(The writer was a candidate for mayor of Lansing in 2021 primary election.)

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