A new report by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) and African Communities Together (ACT), found that since the Southern Towers Apartment Complex, located in Alexandria, Virginia, was purchased by the Los Angeles-based private equity firm CIM Group, tenants have been subjected to extreme rent increases, unaddressed health and safety issues, evictions filed during the federal eviction moratorium, and other forms of mistreatment at the hands of CIM.
“The issues at the Southern Tower Apartment Complex are just a small sample of the issues in which CIM Group has been embroiled in recent years,” said K Agbebiyi, Private Equity Stakeholder Senior Campaign Coordinator. “PESP’s latest report profiles some more of CIM’s ‘greatest hits.’ The firm exemplifies the predatory business practices private equity employs to squeeze profit out of tenants across the country.”
PESP has been working with the nonprofit African Communities Together, as they work to organize tenants. Before being purchased by CIM, Southern Towers was viewed amongst African immigrants in the community as a safe and relatively affordable place to raise their families. Tenants have now been forced to organize against the firm, hosting actions and protests, speaking at public comment opportunities, and digital advocacy.
“This report is a necessary tool for understanding the scope and breadth of CIM Group’s negative impact on everyday people, such as our community at Southern Towers. We urge investors, elected officials, and community leaders to use this resource to inform decision-making around investments and hold CIM accountable to its claims of being “community-focused.” – Sosseh Prom, Housing Justice Director, African Communities Together
Issues at the apartment complex have gained the attention of policymakers both locally and nationally, including site visits from the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, public letters from Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, as well as site visits and letters to CIM from Alexandria City Council members. In September, extensive flooding displaced tenants, many of whom are still waiting for their apartments to become habitable again.
PESP’s report on CIM Group’s tactics makes clear the risk to investors and advises them to pull capital from private equity firms like CIM. It can be found at pestakeholder.org/reports/cim-group-in-the-headlines.