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Resident says imagery and phrases linked to the Holocaust have lingered on a downtown apartment for a week now.

COURTESY PHOTOS: LAUREN KAFKA - A resident says the messages written on the side of The Yards apartment building in downtown Portland leave her frightened and concerned. It's been one week since Lauren Kafka first saw the stark and unmistakable symbols — a green-and-yellow Star of David and the phrase "Welcome to Treblinka" — graffitied on a second-floor balcony of The Yards apartment building.

"I'm a resident here and I have to look at it four times a day. It's traumatic for me," Kafka said.

The 41-year-old contacted Income Property Management Co., the company responsible for maintaining the Home Forward property, and received a response on April 29 stating "your allegations have been corroborated. Remedial action has been taken," according to a copy of the document viewed by the Tribune.

In a follow-up message sent to Kafka on May 5, Income Property Management described the graffiti as "hate speech" and a "lease violation" but said they were unable to disclose how they were addressing the matter.

"We understand that the delay in removing the writing is upsetting and frustrating," according to the letter from Angela Henry, vice president of residential property management. "Unfortunately, it can be a timely process that involves the court system to access the unit."

Henry offered Kafka the opportunity to transfer to a different unit or a similar property under their management, but Kafka says she just wants to stop seeing the imagery when she takes her pet Yorkie, Oscar, on daily walks on Naito Parkway.

Kafka, who identifies as Jewish, says she eventually spoke to the man while he was on his balcony, explaining that she lost family specifically at the Nazi-run Treblinka extermination camp and saying the phrase was "really hard for her to read" and left her frightened.

Kafka says the man responded by saying "you should be" and claimed the phrases were a political complaint regarding current disease lockdowns.

Regardless, Kafka said she doesn't understand the delay in removing the messages: "It's written on the building, and he doesn't own the building," she said.

Monica Foucher, a spokeswoman for Home Forward, said the agency was aware of the issue and that their management company would remove the lettering as soon as possible, but declined to comment on lease enforcement procedures, citing privacy concerns.

"We know how upsetting it is for people to see and as frustrating as that must be, the management company is appropriately handling the situation," said Foucher. "If they could do so without entering a tenant's apartment, management could simply remove it."

As of Thursday, May 6, the graffiti lingers on.


Zane Sparling
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