Rosemont Apartment Woes Prompt tenant safeguards: Commissioners tribunal approves new housing regulations following eviction debacle – archyworldys

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Rosemont at Oak Valley Apartment Complex in Southeast Austin (Photo by Jana Birchum)

In a unanimous vote on October 5, the Travis County Commissioners Court adopted significant revisions to the statutes of the Strategic housing finance company, a a branch of the Housing Authority of Travis County. These new protections, including a tenants’ bill of rights, for residents of SHFC’s nearly 4,650 apartments come after months of advocacy by SHFC tenants Rosemont to Oak Valley resort near Pleasant Valley and Oltorf in Southeast Austin.

On July 2, more than 85 families in Rosemont were threatened with eviction after the damage caused by Winter storm Uri in February exacerbated existing and extensive maintenance issues on the property. Soon after, residents began to organize themselves with Build and strengthen the action of tenants, formed a steering committee and developed a list of demands for SHFC. After weeks of fruitless negotiations, they took the dispute to Commissioners Tribunal shortly before families began moving in August to extended-stay hotels.

The court responded by ordering SHFC to create a resettlement action plan within 90 days and ordering $ 1.6 million from County to Emergency rental assistance program funds to cover the cost of a relocation service, rent, utilities, temporary housing, moving expenses, storage costs and other reimbursable services. Shoshana Krieger from BASTA says the relocation service was particularly helpful in “cleaning up a huge mess”, after some tenants said they only received a few days’ notice for their moves or that they were not given not provided adequate housing for disabled family members. In mid-September, a second relocation – to Airbnbs, primarily – was needed for many residents, after poor communication about the impending time. ACL Party reservations have shortened their original stays.

The timeline for the return of residents to Rosemont is still unclear. With the new provisions of the SHFC regulations, tenants have the right to inspect repairs to their accommodation before moving; some were asked to return, only to find that repairs were incomplete. They will also have the right to organize, after residents have told the the Chronicle in July, the police were repeatedly called to meetings of tenants’ associations. Travis County Judge Andy brown said he “blew me away that there were questions as to whether tenants could organize themselves, and just the fact that there was no tenant representation on the [SHFC] board says it all. “

Now regulations require that two current or former tenants of SHFC-owned properties sit on the board of directors and that the Tenant’s Bill of Rights be included in all future leases, ensuring timely repairs and “keeping the properties. suitable for occupation ”. Bee Dumas, member of the steering committee of Neighbors of Rosemont, said in a press release that “current board members don’t know what it’s like to live in one of their properties and be looked down upon by property managers on a daily basis.”

Some tenants have lived in Rosemont for nearly a decade, but Capstone Real Estate is just the newest in a long line of property managers. “What I wanted to avoid was firing the management company and saying, ‘We’re going to have a new [one], it’s going to be different, ”says Brown. “Obviously, they’ve tried this before. Now there are protections in the bylaws that say, no matter who the leadership is, these are the rights they all must follow. “

Krieger says BASTA’s next step is to help the “forgotten tenants” who remain in Rosemont in unrepaired or half-repaired units, “living in construction areas.” She said, “The next few weeks are going to be when the rubber meets the road, as to whether or not SHFC is going to meet the guidelines of the Court of Commissioners.” But none of this would have happened, says Brown, “if [tenants] hadn’t had the courage to speak. They caught our attention, and I’m really glad they did. “


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