Combat Slumlords to Defend Wilkinsburg from Gentrification!

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Regent Square Rentals (RSR), owned and operated by racist slumlords Charles and Peter Patterson of CP Development. They are shamelessly gentrifying Wilkinsburg, a historically black working class Borough east of Pittsburgh. Brothers Charles and Peter Patterson, and the latter’s daughter Kelsey Patterson, are leeches off the backs of working-class folks and students who live in the area bordering Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh’s Regent Square. They are the largest property holder in this already gentrifying part of Wilkinsburg, west of the bus way, and they continue the years of displacement by hiking rent upwards of 5% per year.

This part of Wilkinsburg has already gone through early stages of gentrification, largely due to RSR, which has pushed out working class Black residents and replaced them with white college students and young professionals. RSR has likened the Black residents of Wilkinsburg to “animals”, warned tenants that they will dig in their garbage, called black folks “crackheads”, and threatened to evict Black tenants who were racially profiled by the police. If this weren’t enough, they are now purchasing properties on the east side of the bus-way, in the heart of Wilkinsburg, which has not experienced the same gentrification as the west side. Despite ever-raising prices, RSR tenants live in slum conditions, with mice, mold, and cockroaches, faulty plumbing and broken kitchen appliances. In addition to that, tenants are subject to harassment from Kelsey Patterson and other staff whenever they try to assert their rights. Maintenance requests go ignored or receive only
“band-aid” repairs – like painting over the mold on the walls.

In the wake of the economic and health crisis, tenants and UNDM activists began organizing against the slum conditions and rent collection, by putting flyers up throughout the neighborhood and talking with tenants. Within days, RSR began a harassment and sabotage campaign, spearheaded by Kelsey Patterson and her coworker Bryan P. Wise, against tenants and organizers. They were followed and harassed by Kelsey, Bryan, RSR maintenance staff, and plainclothes cops who moonlighted for them. Tenants and organizers were doxxed with phony wanted flyers posted on the RSR rental office and the laundromat that they own and operate. Kelsey and Bryan were even spotted going up on tenants’ porches to remove Rent Strike flyers that had been left near mailboxes. It went as far as RSR vandalizing the cars of local activists that they perceived to be connected to the organizing with the same black spray paint maintenance workers were seen using to cover Rent Strike flyers across the neighborhood that very day, which they then left crumbled up by the vehicles.

None of this halted the work of RSR tenants and activists in Wilkinsburg, who continue to take it to their doors and combat CP Development for their position as racist slumlords gentrifying Wilkinsburg! They have continued on organizing, with protests at both the rental office and Kelsey Patterson’s home. This is because UNDM recognizes RSR’s role in the gentrification of Wilkinsburg, as the one of the largest property holders in Wilkinsburg, second only to the borough government. They buy up empty properties in cash, out from under the hands of those middle-class local tenants who seek to purchase homes in the neighborhood. By buyig up mass amounts of property and leaving it in slum conditions while raising rents 3-5% per year, CP Development ensures a constant cycle of new tenants, and rapidly prices current residents out of their neighborhood.

This is how gentrification always works – landlords neglect properties while raising prices, to push tenants out. They continue to buy up vacant houses, which are increasingly available and affordable as the property values of the neighborhood decrease. They refuse to make substantial repairs, but often make cosmetic changes to the properties or the neighborhood – in this case, the pastel paint on RSR properties, and the dog park and community garden they put in. Gentrification is the economic and cultural destruction of working-class neighborhoods, which displaces folks and replaces them with new residents.

Combating slumlords in Wilkinsburg is one vital part of the struggle against the gentrification of the Borough of Wilkinsburg – which is spearheaded by Mayor Marita Garrett (and her nonprofit Civically), the Borough Council, and the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (CDC). These government entities use the police to further their gentrification plans, with ever-increasing patrolling and surveillance of the neighborhood, which aims to push the working class out of Wilkinsburg, through evictions, violence, and intimidation, in order to bring wealthier folks in. This process is plain to see in the development projects throughout Wilkinsburg, which aim to put artisanal cafes, breweries, and high end restaurants in the empty buildings and abandoned train station, thanks to the efforts of Marita Garret’s Civically and the Wilkinsburg CDC.

The people of Wilkinsburg will not allow these plans to follow through and will confront the schemes of the landlords, the developers, and the Borough government that seeks to displace them. By uniting forces and combating all the forces of gentrification, landlords and government alike, the working class masses will defend the Borough. Combating slumlords like CP is one key component of this process, whereby we shift the neighborhood to one where we administer our own demands and needs, rather than letting those in power decide!

The UNDM calls on tenants of Wilkinsburg to resist gentrification by combating RSR/CP Development and all slumlords like them!

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