On July 5th, UNDM hosted a march against evictions in Austin. As eviction moratoriums end in Austin come August, evictions loom over the horizon for many working class tenants who have no way to pay rent due to the economic and health crisis. In addition, the UNDM in Austin has called for a citywide rent strike, demanding “No rent without work or wages!” While tenants across the city are participating in this rent strike there are 4 complexes in particular on Riverside that have released demands against their owners Presidium Group.
Presidium Group is a Texas-based real estate group that has been targeting the Riverside area- one of few remaining working class neighborhoods somewhat close to the city center. Presidium group owns 8 complexes in the Riverside area alone and bought up Quad West, Quad East, and Tempo at Riverside with plans to demolish them to build a Domain on Riverside- a luxury mall with high-end apartments. This is a clear plan to gentrify and displace the working class, immigrant, and poor student population that live in these apartments.
The march began at the lot of the former Pleasant Market, which sits right across from Quad West. This lot is significant because back in 2018 Presidium Group collaborated with Austin Creative Alliance to build a “Riverside Arts District” on the lot. This attempt at art washing for the further gentrification of the neighborhood was met by fierce backlash from the community. After an active boycott by the community, all the artists that had previously signed on to be a part of the Arts District found different venues and their project ultimately failed due to community resistance.
From here, we marched to Ballpark North, one of the working class complexes at threat of displacement from the Domain on Riverside. We then went through the gates into the complex, calling on tenants to join the rent strike and to defend their neighbors against the management and the police trying to evict them. From here we marched south towards Quad West as tenants gave fiery speeches in support of the strike.
From here we continued across the street to Quad East, where we also marched through the complex, calling on tenants to join the march as they cheered on from their patios. One supportive tenant even shot off fireworks in support of our march.
Marchers then continued into Tempo at Riverside, another one of Presidium’s properties that had just recently changed their name from Quad South and is being directly managed by Presidium group. We continued our march into the complex and expressed the frustrations that many of tenants feel not only from the current conditions but from the scummy management that have been raising rent, neglecting the property, and leaving maintenance requests unanswered.
Marchers then continued their march to University Estates, also owned by Presidium, who has been under fire for their neglect of the complex where there are persistent pest problems. Tenants are demanding the firing of Javier Ginestra and Hailee Frank for taking advantage of the tenants there by hurling false accusations, misleading fees, and entering tenants apartments with no prior notice.
At University Estates, we began to wrap up our march by advocating the need for the rent strike to pressure management to meet our demands and calling on tenants to take up the call for eviction defense. Pointing out the amazing work in Los Angeles that has stopped evictions by mobilizing tenants, neighbors, and even the workers who were hired to keep a tenant out to come out and defend the tenant and keep them in their home.
“Tenants and workers are sick of our landlords making us scared at the lost of our housing every month. And no matter what they do we’ll fight it! We don’t watch our neighbors get evicted, we fight! We don”t sign payment plans, we organize! We don’t give landlords a single cent, we don’t give them an inch of conciliation! Uphold the rent strike and defend evictions! “-Except from activists speech outside of University Estates
As we expect a wave of evictions to displace working class families we are organizing to fight back! We uphold the demands of our rent strike, continue the call of NO RENT WITHOUT WORK OR WAGES, and uphold and fight for all the demands across the Presidium complexes!