• HoustonTenantsUnion

7 Days of Tenant Power! Here's how you can help tenants in Houston

Updated: 3 days ago

Our public health is not the only thing at risk during this current public health emergency, our right to housing and safety in shelter is as well. The current eviction moratorium is not enough! Our housing is part of our healthcare, and it is our right! We're building tenant power for 7 days: 7 DAYS OF TENANT POWER from today until April 1st. Each day we will be releasing a new target in Texas to call/email and build the pressure to meet our demands. We're not just calling either. Tenants across Houston are organizing their apartments and neighborhoods. Visit our COVID-19 section, see our COVID-19 Organizing Guide and Join us in fighting back!

1. Freeze Filings: The current eviction moratorium does not prevent landlords from telling vulnerable tenants that they have filed for eviction during this crisis. We need this threat of eviction taken away from the landlords who want us out on the streets. No more " Notices to Vacate" for non-payment of rent. 2. Extended Moratorium: We must be realistic and have security for tenants. We are likely to fight COVID-19 well into the summer. 60 days is the only way to keep tenants in their homes.


3.No Late Fees: Predatory landlords have a scheme late fee "churning" which is the common practice of stacking rent fees for "late payment" based on a prior months late payment. This should not be allowed during a state of emergency.


4. No Back Filings: Evictions for non-payment of rent should not be submitted on the basis of non-payment of rent during this moratorium.. Dates matter in eviction court and tenants deserve reasonable doubt for the extreme circumstances during the state of emergency.


5. Rent Freeze: Rent forgiveness, rent relief, rent suspension, and freedom from rent hikes! Payment of rent by whatever means possible other than the tenant, either tax incentive for landlords to forgive rent during this moratorium, direct relief by third party of rent during the moratorium, and the inability to raise rent prices during the moratorium on month-to-month leases, verbal agreement

DAY 1 of Tenant Power! Wednesday 3/25 Target #1:


Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge


Telephone: (713) 274-7000


Email: (3 emails) judge.hidalgo@cjo.hctx.net , hello@linahidalgo.com , press@linahidalgo.com


SCRIPT:


Voice Script:


"Hi, my name is ____, I am a resident of Harris County. On behalf of tenants in the Houston area, as a matter of public health and housing justice, I demand that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo freeze evictions, extend the current eviction moratorium to at least 60 days, prohibit late fees, prohibit back-filing of evictions, stop the homeless sweeps, forgive non-payment and freeze rent!"


Email script:


"Hi, my name is ____, I am a resident of Harris County. On behalf of tenants in the Houston area, I demand that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo freeze evictions, extend the current eviction moratorium to at least 60 days, prohibit back-filing of evictions, prohibit late fees, forgive non-payment of rent and declare a rent moratorium while the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, as a matter of housing justice and public health necessity. Owners of housing units should not be allowed to issue notices of termination or initiate eviction actions during this moratorium. Further, we also demand that no late fees, or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue. We also demand that there be no back-filing on evictions from non-payment of rent during the time of the crisis. These demands are essential under a public health emergency to aid in the well-being of the community and further curb the spread of COVID-19.

We also demand an immediate end to the sweeps, which will only exacerbate the health crisis houseless people face. Now is not the time to use “sanitation” as an excuse to confiscate the little these people have. Houseless people are tenants as well, these are evictions too and must end. Seattle has passed a mayoral ordinance and has stopped the sweeps Houston can do so as well!" Our public health is not the only thing at risk during this current public health emergency, our right to housing and safety in shelter is as well. The current eviction moratorium is not enough! Our housing is part of our healthcare, and it is our right! We're building tenant power for 7 days: 7 DAYS OF TENANT POWER from today until April 1st. Each day we will be releasing a new target in Texas to call/email and build the pressure to meet our demands.

DAY 2 of Tenant Power! Thursday 3/26 Target #2:

Sylvester Turner, Mayor

Telephone: (713) 837.0311

Email: mayor@houstontx.gov, Sylvester@SylvesterTurner.com

SCRIPT:


Voice Script:


"Hi, my name is ____, I am a resident of Houston. On behalf of tenants in the Houston area, as a matter of public health and housing justice, I demand that Mayor Turner freeze evictions, extend the current eviction moratorium to at least 60 days, prohibit late fees, prohibit back-filing of evictions, stop the homeless sweeps, forgive non-payment and freeze rent! It’s hard to ‘stay at home, work safe’ when your home is taken from you.”


Email script:


"Hi, my name is ____, I am a resident of Houston. On behalf of tenants in the Houston area, I demand that Mayor Turner freeze evictions, extend the current eviction moratorium to at least 60 days, prohibit back-filing of evictions, prohibit late fees, forgive non-payment of rent and declare a rent moratorium while the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, as a matter of housing justice and public health necessity. Owners of housing units should not be allowed to issue notices of termination or initiate eviction actions during this moratorium. Further, we also demand that no late fees, or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue. We also demand that there be no back-filing on evictions from non-payment of rent during the time of the crisis. These demands are essential under a public health emergency to aid in the well-being of the community and further curb the spread of COVID-19. It is impossible to ‘stay at home, work safe’ when your home is taken from you.

We also demand an immediate end to the sweeps, which will only exacerbate the health crisis houseless people face. Now is not the time to use “sanitation” as an excuse to confiscate the little these people have. Houseless people are tenants as well, these are evictions too and must end. Seattle has passed a mayoral ordinance and has stopped the sweeps Houston can do so as well!”

DAY 3 of Tenant Power! Target #3:


Yolanda Jeffries, Administrative Coordinator of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) & HCDD's Homelessness Prevention Program

Telephone: (832) 394-6308 [Jeffries], (832) 393-0870 [program]


SCRIPT:


Voice Script:


"Hi, my name is ____, I am a resident of Houston. On behalf of tenants in the Houston area, as a matter of public health and housing justice, I demand that HUD and HCCD's homeless initiative freeze evictions, extend the current eviction moratorium to at least 60 days, prohibit late fees, prohibit back-filing of evictions, stop the homeless sweeps, forgive non-payment and freeze rent! It’s hard to ‘stay at home, work safe’ when your home is taken from you.”


DAY 4 of Tenant Power! Target #4:


The worst of the worst: Landlords.


Today we will be targeting the landlords that have had the worst responses to tenants during this pandemic. Give them a piece of your mind.


Link below for the article as to why these are the WORST of the worst:


https://www.houstontenantsunion.org/post/here-s-the-worst-letters-from-houston-landlords-during-the-covid-19-crisis


Westview Forest Apartments

713-467-1719

https://www.facebook.com/WestviewForestApartments/

(message on FB in place of email)


Fat Property

832-640-4444

leasing@fatproperty.com


Karya Properties

(Steeples Apartments)

281-558-6284

(Main Office)

832-925-7807


Voice script:


"Hi, my name is (name) . On behalf of the tenants at (insert apartment company name) and the tenants of Houston, as a matter of public health and housing justice, I demand that insert apartment company name practice better practices in place in regards to their tenants during this state of emergency such as forgiving non-payment of rent during this state of emergency, forgoing charging late fees for non-payment of rent, granting a rent freeze and forgoing eviction filing during the pandemic."


Email script:


"Hi, my name is (name), I am a resident of Houston. On behalf of tenants in the Houston area, I demand that insert apartment complex engage in better treatment of their tenants by putting in place practices such as: forgoing filing for eviction during this state of emergency, forgive non-payment of rent and issue a rent freeze while the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, as a matter of housing justice and public health necessity. Further, we also demand that no late fees, or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue. We also demand that there be no back-filing on evictions from non-payment of rent during the time of the crisis. These demands are essential under a public health emergency to aid in the well-being of the community and further curb the spread of COVID-19. It is impossible to ‘stay at home, work safe’ when your home is taken from you."


DAY 5 of Tenant Power! Target #5 The worst of the worst: Landlords. Look at the notices they've posted for tenants at their properties. https://www.houstontenantsunion.org/post/here-s-the-worst-letters-from-houston-landlords-during-the-covid-19-crisis Call and give them a piece of your mind.. The Demands (script below): 1. Do not file any evictions 2. Do not threaten or collect late fees 3. Post a notice for your tenants reflecting (1) and (2) and that evictions are prohibited until after April 26th Granite Club Apartments, AON Wakeforest LLC 8181 Colony Dr. Ms. Michelle Ybarra, VP of US Operations 832-460-6533 --> ext.301 (direct line) Country Club Place Apts, The Axcell Group 950 Villa De Matel Alan Yu, Manager, Managing Director 832-621-9024 (direct line) https://www.facebook.com/countryclubplaceapts/ The Retreat on Rosslyn, Rosslyn2016 LLC 5801 N Houston Rosslyn Rd. 713-681-8386 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Retreat-On-Rosslyn/ **************************** Voice and email script: "Hi, my name is __ The notice you left tenants about paying rent during this global pandemic is being shared on social media. On behalf of the tenants at __apt name____ and the tenants of Houston, I demand that __company_name___ meet the following demands as a matter of public health and housing justice: First: Do not file or threaten to file eviction suits against tenants who cannot pay rent for the month of April. Second: Do not collect or threaten to collect late-fees for rent paid after the April due date. Third: DO post another notice that your policy regarding rent for April has changed per our first and second demands, adding clearly, in bold “THE STATE OF TEXAS FORBIDS EVICTIONS BEFORE APRIL 26th, 2020” Failure to meet these demands during this global pandemic and economic crisis amounts to violent coercion and will not be tolerated. We encourage you to investigate the numerous financial assistance programs for landlords that have become available. If your tenants are not aware of these now, they will be aware of them soon. Thank you"

DAY 6 of Tenant Power! Target #6 : The Texas Supreme Court The Texas Supreme Court passed emergency order four recognizing the gravity of the situation. However, this order does not go far enough and fails to adequately protect tenants. Voice and email script: "Hi, my name is __ I understand that the Texas Supreme Court passed emergency order four recognizing the gravity of the coronavirus crisis. However, this order does not go far enough and fails to adequately protect tenants. We demand a freeze on residential evictions for non-payment up to at least May and extendable while the proclamation of Civil Emergency is still on, which allow landlords to coerce tenants through the posting of a false notice to vacate during the moratorium. Further, we also demand that no late fees, no back-filings or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue. We also demand that Civil Courts hearing eviction suits should regard eviction suits filed in this time as filed in a period of Civil Emergency, because we are currently under a public health emergency. Courts should be able to grant a continuance for a future hearing date in order for the eviction action to be heard after the moratorium. We also remind people that houseless people are also tenants. We demand an immediate stop to the sweeps, which will only exacerbate the health crisis houseless people face. Now is not the time to use “sanitation” as an excuse to confiscate the little these people have. Thank you"

DAY 7 of Tenant Power! Target #7 Houston City Council Members While County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the Supreme Court of Texas and now the Austin City Council have passed ordinances, little has come from the Houston City Council to alleviate tenants. We must demand they take action. The list of numbers is long, find your council member here: http://www.houstontx.gov/council/ Voice and email script: "Hi, my name is __ We demand a freeze on residential evictions for non-payment up to at least May and extendable while the proclamation of Civil Emergency is still on, which allow landlords to coerce tenants through the posting of a false notice to vacate during the moratorium. Further, we also demand that no late fees, no back-filings or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue. We also demand that Civil Courts hearing eviction suits should regard eviction suits filed in this time as filed in a period of Civil Emergency, because we are currently under a public health emergency. Courts should be able to grant a continuance for a future hearing date in order for the eviction action to be heard after the moratorium We also remind people that houseless people are also tenants. We demand an immediate stop to the sweeps, which will only exarcerbate the health crisis houseless people face. Now is not the time to use “sanitation” as an excuse to confiscate the little these people have. Seattle has passed a mayoral ordinance and has stopped the sweeps. Austin's City council has passed a 60 day rent freeze period. The Houston city council can take initiative and do these things too. Up to now they have just followed Judge Hidalgo.

Once again this isn't the end! We've seen Houston tenants working together creates power, and we've already seen what that power can do. Let's yield that power for the next 7 days and beyond! You are not alone. Houston is not alone. There are now billions of desperate tenants all across the world and we will not be silent. Housing is a human right!


https://www.houstontenantsunion.org/covid-19

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