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Tenants stage powerful action at CIM headquarters

Tenants from African Communities Together protested and spoke to the University of California Regents about their investment in the CIM Group: WATCH VIDEO OF THE ACTION.

On the morning of January 17th, chants of  “C-I-M, SHAME ON YOU” echoed on the Los Angeles streets outside of the headquarters of private equity firm the CIM Group. The firm’s nondescript building served as the backdrop for a protest led by tenants of the corporate landlord, and members of African Communities Together (ACT). Despite living in Alexandria, Virginia, tenants were passionate enough about their issues with CIM to travel across the country to demand change. With allies from the groups  Alliance of Californians for Community Engagement (ACCE), and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) and the Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP), the tenants invited CIM to come out and engage with the protestors. Their demands? For the CIM Group to stop the eviction filings and rent raises, and to address long-held tenant concerns including mold, leaks, and infestations in the Southern Towers apartment complex which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. Armed with leaflets and a massive replica of an eviction notice, the tenants and their supporters shared about the harm that CIM Group and similar private equity firms such as Blackstone have caused to low-income Black and Brown workers. Speakers used megaphones to chant and amplify the demands of the tenants. On the megaphone Sosseh Prom, ACT’s State Policy Manager said the protestors were there to tell CIM that tenants “deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Southern Towers Tenants Roslyn and Tewodros

The eviction notice served as a replica for eviction notices given to tenants across the country. It also served as a reminder that CIM continued to file for evictions despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the passage of the CARES ACT. In fact, ACT believes that the private equity group participated in violating the act. In a letter written in December 2022 to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, ACT stated that notices given to Southern Towers tenants were insufficient in terms of informing tenants about their right to a 30-day notice. When organizers wanted to ensure that the CIM Group fully heard their message, they entered the building to deliver their eviction notice, chanting in unison. An employee for the firm approached protestors before they even entered the building. The group was determined to deliver their eviction notice and were eventually able to enter. Despite the resistance of the employee they were able to deliver their notice to the CIM Group.

The action marked the beginning of a day of resistance for the tenants. Protest attendees regrouped later in the afternoon as they spoke during the public comment portion of the University of California Regents Investment Committee meeting., The University of California Endowment and Retirement Plan has invested over $200 million in CIM Group[1]. Southern Towers tenants and ACT staff spoke about the disrepair in the Southern Towers building along with the culpability of the University of California Regents due to their investment in CIM. Southern Towers Tenant Tewodros informed regents that “tenants have met with CIM on numerous occasions to discuss our concerns and explain the struggles we face, but we still find ourselves dealing with mold issues, maintenance issues and rent increases that are unaffordable.”  Roslyn Gadley, another tenant at Southern Towers, spoke of her experience as a resident of the community for 30 years saying “for years it has been known as a safe haven where hardworking families could find affordable housing.” Out of her 30 years of living in Southern Towers, Gadley stated “I have found CIM to be the worst landlord.” Staff from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project also spoke about the impact of the Regent’s investment on tenants at Southern Towers and also the Los Angeles neighborhood of West Adams.

Watch the video here.

Since the CIM Group purchased Southern Towers in 2020, tenants have reported CIM giving tenants 5-day eviction notices, rent increases of 9% or higher, and charging extra money for parking and utilities.[2]The CIM group has also failed to adequately address safety hazards such as unfixed leaks, mold, pest infestations, and other unsafe living conditions. Through testifying, tenants were able to directly communicate with regents the impacts of their investment into CIM group. Through the protest and public comment Southern Towers tenants left Los Angeles with a renewed sense of energy in the fight against CIM Group. They also left with deepened connections to protest attendees ACCE and SAJE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] UCRP Holdings as of June 30, 2022

[2] https://africans.us/sites/default/files/Formal%20Complaint%20Against%20CIM%20Group.pdf

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