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Happy New Year, For Tenants Nothing's Changed!

Unfortunately, 2009 proved for many big-city tenants that the golden rule was promiscuously traded for gold. Why would 2010 be any different?


Ask yourself, how many landlords made New Year's resolutions that included, "This year I'm going to be more compassionate to my tenants." Or more practically, "This year, I'm going to treat my tenants like I would have them treat me?like human beings." Unfortunately, 2009 proved for many big-city tenants that the golden rule was promiscuously traded for gold. Why would 2010 be any different?

In my blog post, Tenants, Thugs and CDOs, I summarized several articles outlining the effect of the predatory equity meltdown on tenants. In San Francisco and New York, the abuse and harassment of tenants by Tishman Speyer and CitiApartments are well known. In both cases the companies over-financed huge residential rental portfolios relying on business plans that included increasing rents by ousting rent-controlled tenants. For them and their ink tenants are nothing more than cattle to be bought, sold and slaughtered.

A week after I posted the article, The New York Times outlined tenant struggles following the bankruptcy of another megalandlord--British company, Dawnay Day. Just last week there were reports about rats and bedbugs in the Dawnay Day properties; East Palo Alto's Page Mill Properties' buildings were beginning to be auctioned after their $50 million default last year; and both Tishman Speyer and BlackRock missed a scheduled repayment to senior lenders on a bond used to finance debt from the joint purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartments.

It's only going to get worse for commercial property owners. Remember that residential apartment building are also considered to be commercial properties. In 24/7 Wall Street's, Commercial Real Estate Begins To Mirror Residential Market, Douglas A. McIntyre muses, "Most analysts believe that the commercial real estate loan market is about to reach the place that the residential part of the market was a year ago. 'Losses from commercial real estate will be quite high by historic standards,' the former Comptroller of the Currency, Eugene Ludwig, told Bloomberg. Some experts think it will be even worse than that. Many community and regional banks could be ruined by defaults on the commercial mortgages that they hold." I also think it's important to heed the words of Paul Krugman in his column, Disaster and Denial: "[C]onservatives simply ignore the catastrophe in commercial real estate: in their universe the only bad loans were those made to poor people and members of minority groups, because bad loans to developers of shopping malls and office towers don't fit the narrative."

What does this mean for tenants living in buildings owed by predatory mega-landlords? Probably more of the same.

Meanwhile, on the home front, last week Dean Preston of Tenants Together wrote that Judicial Bias Out of Control in SF Superior Court, "I've thought long and hard about why San Francisco judges are so hostile to tenants. I've concluded that most simply do not believe in tenants' rights, particularly rent control and its eviction protections, and view their job in housing cases as protecting a landlord's 'right' to do what he or she wants with his/her property." Does that ring a bell?

I did my stint at the San Francisco Tenants Union this week, and guess what? Yes, allegations of over $3,000.00 of security deposits stolen by landlords. And video-taped illegal entries, showing once again that landlords think they can do whatever they want...

So this year us tenants can settle into the New Year with the lucid understanding that we really get what our ancestors were feeling and thinking a thousand years ago. Let's party like it's 1010!

Check out my newly designed Tenants Rights Blog?Evict This!

homepage: homepage: http://crowandrose.com


Lew Church, PSU Progressive Student Union lewchurch@gmail.com

Some of us are going to the housing protest in San Francisco next week, and plan to network with the S.F. Tenants Union while there. Here in Portland, Tenant Rights Project continues to meet (our third year!) every Sunday night at 6pm in the Biltmore lobby, 310 N. Sixth Ave., in downtown Portland. These tenant meetings are open to all tenants, and one recent meeting had tenants from four buildings.

Our ongoing campaign, against so-called nonprofit landlord/slumlord, Central City Concerned (CCC) has seen, this winter, the landlord hire a lawyer to 'deal with' troublesome tenants. Part of this strategy seems to include more police presence to enforce the drug war, evidently.

However, tenants have complained about persistent pest control problems in many of the 23 buildings (there are 1400 CCC tenants overal), including cockroaches, mice and bedbugs. There are crime issues in terms of prostitution, drugs, kickbacks to some managers, in and outside the buildings. In addition to repairs not being made, there is also the issue, with CCC, of transparency and accountability: the CCC board meetings (it has a $33,000,000 per year annual budget) are closed to tenants, tenants therefore aren't allowed to speak at board meetings, and the board minutes are secret.

In addition, a new tactic by this landlord is to create the RQIC, Resident Quality Improvement Committee. Tenant Rights Project demanded that CCC create a Tenants Council, elected by tenants, but CCC's $100,000 per year CEO, Ed Blackburn, says that "will never happen." Instead, the RQIC has secret meetings with tenants from the 23 buildings, one per building -- but the meetings are secret, closed to tenants, and the meeting minutes are also secret. One tenant from each building has been picked by the landlord to attend these secret meetings.

For more info. contact  lewchurch@gmail.com or 503-222-2974.


PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240

but lew. 14.Jan.2010 00:45


i think you all should get organized as tenants, then if you are in HUD subsidized units, get nonprofit status and get a grant from hud. ask new columbia's tenant council how they did it.
ok. now, to my knowledge, it is not even legal for the ccc to start a tenant council for you. they would have too much undue influence, it would be a conflict, etc. YOU have to start your own tenant council. They can't do it. i'm not an atty by the way.
Ask HUD for their guideline publication about tenant councils. I believe those apartments are all at least partially funded by HUD, aren't they? section something or other. find out. Get the property tax department's full info about the apartments, mortgage, program, and the owners. it should all be there, for starters.