Independence tenants demand action on poor conditions: ‘Paychecks rather than people’

A bunch of about 30 Independence Tower residents and advocates gathered within the basement of the constructing Thursday morning with members of KC Tenants, an area tenant union, to protest their residing situations.

They chanted “Independence Tower… We are power.”

“Our home is infested with roaches,” stated Hunter Stephens, a frontrunner of the tenant union at Independence Towers. “On my first day, I opened my silverware drawer and found my buggy roommates crawling through my forks. Now I don’t use those cabinets because that’s disgusting.”

Residents complained of cockroaches, mice and different pests. In the summer time, they stated there’s regularly no air-con, and within the winter, no heating. That describes a number of the poor residing situations several residents told The Star they’ve endured at Independence Towers, positioned at 728 Jennings Road.

Michelle Paylor, who was forced to leave in March, spoke on her experience living at Independence Towers.Michelle Paylor, who was forced to leave in March, spoke on her experience living at Independence Towers.

Michelle Paylor, who was pressured to depart in March, spoke on her expertise residing at Independence Towers.

For two weeks beginning March 1, residents misplaced entry to scorching water. Last week, Hunter’s hallway flooded. The water had been turned off, however when it got here again on, flats started to flood.

Joshua Jamison, one other resident, stated soiled sewage water got here up by means of his tub and sink, noting, “It’s completely unacceptable for a place one should call home.”

After considerations had been raised in March by residents and KC Tenants, which reached out to the proprietor on March 7 for an replace, town said they’re prepared to tag the constructing as uninhabitable, which might displace all residents within the constructing if fixes aren’t made quickly.

But up to now, complaints to administration, residents stated, go nowhere. Many tenants advised The Star they had been afraid to return ahead to metropolis officers or to get assist associated to different points with residing situations due to the potential of being hit with a non-renewal launch.

Michelle Paylor, 63, stated she acquired one after reaching out to town, and moved out on the finish of March. That’s when she and different tenants determined to kind a union to combat in opposition to administration.

“I don’t want to be afraid anymore,” she stated.

Independence Towers is managed by Tango Management, which is owned by FTW Investments, an organization which additionally managed a fancy which The Star reported on in Jan. 2023 for leaving tenants for days with out warmth through the winter.

Parker Webb, FTW’s chief government officer and supervisor of Tango Management, didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark, and neither did FTW Investments. The property was recently listed for sale by Friedman Real Estate, which additionally didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Jamison has lived at Independence Towers for 4 years. He moved in as a result of it was inexpensive. At the time, he was going by means of a divorce and was simply leaving the navy. He was moved from the tenth flooring to the 2nd attributable to building. His outdated flooring is now condemned.

“I found that the carpet was never changed from the previous tenants,” Jamison stated when he moved to his 2nd flooring house. “I had dents in my walls. I also had paint peeling from the walls and ceiling. I had no heating air or air conditioning in my living room or bedroom for eight months of my lease.”

‘Not just numbers on a balance sheet’

In their calls for, tenants are asking for instant options for his or her plumbing, water, HVAC, pest, elevator and mould points. This consists of eliminating the mice, rats and cockroaches that infest their models. They additionally ask for accountability in responding to communication inside 24 hours, a lease freeze for the remainder of the 12 months and a rise thereafter to not exceed 3% a 12 months.

Tenants additionally demand there to be no evictions, displacement, lease will increase, harassment or every other types of retaliation from requesting such calls for.

Anna Heetman, resident for 5 years stated, “Parker Webb has no problem treating us as paychecks rather than people, and then retaliating against us.” Things are completely different now, she stated, as a result of 45 tenants have joined the union, making up over 55% of the advanced.

“We need Parker Webb to come to the negotiation table and agree to fix our homes,” Heeman stated. “We need Parker Webb to know that we are not just numbers on a balance sheet.”

KC Tenants are giving Tango Management till 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8 to reply to their calls for.

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