Home News Here’s how a group of Rohnert Park seniors banded together to take on their corporate landlord

Here’s how a group of Rohnert Park seniors banded together to take on their corporate landlord

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In these situations, renters are often unaware of existing tenant protections and are either unprepared or unable to navigate the complex legal landscape.

Reliant Property Management and Flynn did not respond to multiple phone calls and email requests for interviews.

network of support

Copeland Creek’s Tenant Alliance increased their chances against these odds and had a lot of help. Sonoma County Tenant Unionworking to strengthen the rights of local renters.

Sonoma County Tenant Union North Bay Organizing Project, a coalition of local grassroots organizations. Promote housing justice through policy reform campaigns and provide assistance and legal referrals to tenants at risk. hotline (707-387-1968).

The organization also uses its hotline as a means of helping unhappy residents form de facto unions in apartment buildings for a better shot at getting results by acting as a community. I’m here.

this is strategy it has been gain tractionespecially since COVID-19 Pandemic destabilize the economy, even more dangerous shelter Tenants already struggling. Tenants are unionized all over the country When nationwide When faced with corporate landlords who exploit or exacerbate tenant vulnerabilities through eviction, rent and fee increases, or poor living conditions.

After numerous calls to the hotline about the Copeland Creek issue, the Sonoma County Tenants Union decided the complex could be a good candidate.

“That’s why we started a hotline so we can know what’s going on in complexes across the county so we can intervene and encourage people,” said Chad Bora, Tenant Organizer for Sonoma County Tenants. so that we can work together and organize together.” Union.

This organization helped residents coordinate early meetings, coordinate tensions between neighborhood residents, and guide residents in setting up the structure of the association. They also rented a community center for their first meeting and banded together to watch from the outside.

A few months after his first meeting with Flynn, relations soured.

On the day of the scheduled February meeting, Flynn sent a cancellation email to the Tenant Alliance.

“I have been thinking about this a lot and am very conflicted about what to do,” he wrote. We deeply believe in the importance of providing quality, affordable housing.On the one hand, in life, you have to accept one truth.The truth here is that Copeland Creek has , it may be that some people are never happy despite our efforts.

“And while they may be disguised as advocates for change in reality, they are only advocates for chaos.”

Flynn continued that the association would agree to rescheduling if it was open to certain changes. asked to no longer participate.

Tenant groups pushed back. There have been no meetings since.

Meanwhile, according to residents I spoke with, security cameras were installed in the mail room and laundry room, but not in the parking lot.

The steering committee members I spoke with acknowledged that not all residents were on board with their efforts and that getting more people involved was their biggest challenge. Some called them “haters,” others were overwhelmed with health problems, and others didn’t want to exercise. rice field.

After knocking on the door at the complex about a tenant alliance and a potluck for its efforts, one resident received a cease and desist letter from Reliant’s attorneys saying other tenants reported feeling “harassed.” received.

“The solicitation of residents or the intimidation of applicants prevents quiet enjoyment of the property … violates the terms of the rental agreement,” the letter states. “If you continue to do this, management may seek all available damages and attorneys’ fees.”

Despite these setbacks, the Copeland Creek Tenant Alliance has moved forward.

Snow was slow to react at first, she said. Despite her past activity in the women’s movement in the 1970s, as a low-income senior who was previously homeless by Tubbs in her fire, she now finds her own vulnerabilities special. I was feeling the weight.

“This was my only chance to have a place to live…I have a lot to deal with. But I think the concept of being left alone can be pretty devastating,” she said. told me.

“The problem doesn’t disappear when you disappear, but it disappears from the solution. So you have to keep believing that progress will happen.”

The association sent an anonymous survey to the complex to gauge support. Of the 50 responses, 41 were positive, Pedone told me after reading some of the responses.

Together with the Sonoma County Tenants Union and the North Bay Organizing Project, they have attended city council meetings, hosted events for tenants in Copeland Creek and surrounding areas, and held entitlement workshops. Rohnert Park’s fire chief spoke about fire season safety, and Jackie He was attended by Mayor Elward to listen to residents’ concerns. At the complex, members of the association disseminated information and resources about prohibited pandemic rent increases, leading to refunds, Pedone said.

Now they are planning the next steps to re-engage Reliant.

“If you don’t stick to yourself, it’s an invitation to be taken advantage of,” Pedone told me. “Organizing efforts have never been easier.”

“In Your Corner” is a new column to help the community benefit from the Watchdog Report. If you have any concerns, tips, or hunches, you can contact “In Your Corner” columnist Marisa Endicott at 707-521-5470 or [email protected] On Twitter @InYourCornerTPD and Facebook @InYourCornerTPD.

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