Building and Strengthening Tenant Action
Buscando Acción y Solidaridad Que Transforme el Arrendamiento
Tenants Get Commitments from New Owners to Address Longstanding Problems
May 10, 2018
Leaders from Fairway Village Tenants Association and Santa Maria Village Tenants Association organize to ensure the health and affordability of their homes for years to come.
"The tenants association is looking forward to seeing that the tenants’ requested changes are made. We will keep working to improve our community and are excited to build an open and productive relationship with the new owner." Dao, tenant leader at Santa Maria Village Apartments (SMV), supported the sale of SMV by testifying at May 10th's Austin City Council Meeting.
Neighbors at Fairway Village Apartments and Santa Maria Village Apartments organized into tenant associations (TAs) to deal with longstanding issues that owner and management company Sage Apartment Communities failed to address. Many of these issues persist today, like the lack of working A/C at Santa Maria Village.
When tenants heard about a potential sale of their homes they sprung into action to make sure that their concerns would be addressed if any sale were to happen. The tenants associations hosted meetings to compile and prioritize the changes tenants would like to see made at each property.
At those meetings members expressed frustrations with accounting problems, leaking ceilings, moldy apartments, inadequate security, community room inaccessibility, and parking.
The Fairway Village Tenants Association was concerned that the Section 8 contract on their property might not be renewed and that if major renovations would be made, residents would not receive adequate relocation assistance , which could result in the permanent loss of deeply affordable housing in Montopolis.
The Santa Maria Village Tenants Association wanted to make sure that all of its members were able to effectively communicate with management - including a large number of Vietnamese and Spanish-speaking residents. Each tenants association compiled their asks into a list and then gathered signatures from their neighbors to show resident support for the asks.
The tenants associations presented their asks to the potential buyer, Texas Housing Foundation (THF), and had meetings with THF and their Council Members Pio Renteria and Greg Casar. To proceed with the project, Austin City Council would need to approve Texas Housing Foundation working in Austin.
Over the next few weeks, the tenants associations and THF hammered out agreements where THF committed to addressing almost all of the associations’ concerns.
THF committed to completing longstanding needed repairs, keeping the properties affordable for at least another 35 years, providing additional support services such as computer labs, ensuring that any tenants will not incur additional expenses if temporary relocation is needed, assisting tenants with language barriers and literacy issues, and meeting with the tenants associations quarterly.
Tenant Association representatives and a Texas Housing Foundation representative signed commitment letters on May 9, 2018 and tenant leaders testified at a City Council Meeting on May 10, 2018 commending THF for its commitments to the tenants associations and its willingness to work collaboratively. City Council voted in favor of all items relating to the sale of Santa Maria Village and Fairway Village Congratulations to these TAs for using their collective power to ensure the health and affordability of their homes for years to come! BASTA will continue to actively support both tenant associations to make sure that the
agreed-upon improvements will be made.
BASTA is a non-profit project dedicated to helping Austin renters work together to improve the conditions of their homes and communities.