NBC investigated the behavior of private equity landlord Progress Residential, and featured Inquilinos Unidos Por Justicia/ United Renters for Justice (IX), a Minneapolis tenant organization that “has won rent freezes, refunds and other concessions from their private-equity-backed landlord, showing that protests, pickets and organizing can gain results even against a powerful corporate giant.”
IX has been “battling Progress Residential, the largest provider of single-family homes for rent in the U.S. The private-equity-backed Progress and its affiliated companies have purchased almost 90,000 properties across the country in recent years, focusing on fast-growing metropolitan areas…” According to NBC, “Progress also acts as a property manager, and is backed by Pretium Partners, a private-equity firm overseen by Don Mullen, a former Goldman Sachs executive.”
Progress tenants in North Minneapolis, a predominantly Black neighborhood, shared with NBC that “many of the company’s rental homes are badly maintained, with black mold, pest infestations, broken windows, cracked foundations and insufficient heat in winter. Even so, Progress has raised rents, the tenants said.”
United Renters for Justice has picketed in front of the company’s local offices, encouraged residents to call 311 with complaints, advised tenants how to pay their rent to the court if repairs were not made and asked to meet with Progress executives.
Since the protests against Progress began, the group has also won rent-to-own options for its tenants, and when a tenant must relocate while a property is being repaired, the landlord has agreed to pay moving costs.
NBC reported that according to PESP’s new report:
Progress’s operations in Minneapolis have been lucrative. The report says that the company’s purchases of these modest homes have prevented first-time and lower-income homebuyers from being able to buy them. Now that the North Minneapolis properties purchased by Progress and affiliates have more than doubled in value, the report said, wealth creation that could have benefited residents in the neighborhood instead went to the wealthy firm.
IX campaign lead Samantha Pree-Stinson told NBC that “when you have large quantities of [activism] happening, the city has to reallocate resources to address the issue. The pressure we put on the system, it made the system have to respond.”