Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tenants Hold Marathon 24-Hour Meeting to Exercise Their Rights

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2007

Norwood Owners Again Threaten Tenants With Eviction

Norwood tenant association organizers are again being threatened with eviction, after a lemonade sit-in protesting a month-long broken elevator. In response, the association is holding a twenty-four hour marathon meeting in the building lobby from Sunday, July 29 at 4p.m. until Monday July 30 at 4p.m., to educate tenants of their rights to organize without fear of intimidation or eviction threats from property owners.

The City's 2006 Tenants Right to Organize Act, sponsored by Councilmember Jim Graham, gives tenants the right to organize for their common welfare, to meet in building common areas, and to distribute literature. Building owners are subject to a $10,000 civil fine for each instance of interference with their rights to organize.

Despite this, on July 24, selected Norwood tenants received thirty-day eviction notices from owner's attorney Kevin Kane, demanding that tenants stop "loitering" and refrain from using the lobby for any organizing purposes.

"We are holding this twenty-four hour marathon meeting to demonstrate District tenants’ rights, and to tell the owners these rights cannot be violated,” notes board member Randy Green. Affordable rental housing continues to be a dwindling commodity in D.C. as landlords are on a condominium conversion binge, threatening both safe and habitable housing while ignoring their legal obligations to maintain buildings. The Norwood is a prime example. After The Tenacity Group proposed condo conversion in January 2007, tenants rejected the offer, and building conditions have markedly deteriorated.

As is their legal right, Norwood tenants want a safe and decent place to live, such as a working elevator and an end to grave vermin infestation problems. The association says NO to intimidation, YES to lemonade in the lobby, and YES to tenant organization.

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