Residents of Paradise Oaks and Lamplighter fight back against landlord retaliation
In Paradise Oaks, a working-class mobile home park in San Marcos, Texas, repression from landlord and property management has reached a breaking point. Tenants are fed up with the excessive bills and the threats of eviction by slumlord manager Marylou Alvarez and her family. Tenants are uniting with UNDM to fight back. Management, who lives on the property with their family, have banded together to harass tenants who speak out against them, but their hollow threats and intimidation will not stop UNDM from organizing tenants to demand better housing conditions.
In the two properties managed by Marylou Alvarez, Paradise Oaks and Lamplighter, water bills are an exorbitant $200 a month or more. The water for both properties is sent to the property manager and tenants are not allowed to look to see how much water is used, so they are forced to pay whatever amount Marylou says they owe. On top of this, rent is being raised by Marylou each year by $25, but it doubled to $50 a year once the pandemic started and the economic crisis started deepening. The tenants who pay these excessive bills are given little to no maintenance on their homes. Management justifies this negligence by saying tenants are “renting to own” and therefore maintenance on the property is their responsibility. Yet, people have previously been evicted from their homes before they are able to pay them off. Management puts the burden of repairs on tenants, then tries to take their homes from them after repairs are made. Tenants are being lied to at Paradise Oaks and Lamplighter, while their hard earned income is being taken from them by slumlord management.
A mother of three who lives at Paradise Oaks told UNDM: “Sometimes I feel like I can’t even walk outside because I know (the property manager) can see me, and that just makes me uncomfortable.” Along with the financial costs, the stress from living next door to slumlord management takes its toll and tenants are exhausted. “This whole situation stresses me out, Marylou stresses me out, but working with UNDM actually helps with that.”
The property manager and her family have tried to stop tenants and organizers (see video). While canvassing with a tenant, Marylou and her family attempted to intimidate us by shouting at us and calling the police. The granddaughter of Marylou got in the face of a tenant’s daughter and shouted at her for exposing her grandmother as a slumlord. Marylou is now suing the tenant for eviction stating that the tenant is slandering her for speaking out against her negligence. These threats are hollow and will not stop the rising movement in Paradise Oaks and Lamplighter.
The tenants at Paradise Oaks, and countless other working-class neighborhoods like it, need a solution to these housing problems. They will not find any solutions coming from the ruling class, but UNDM organizes around the demands of the tenants and links it to the problem of power. The working people must fight for the power to administer their own affairs, especially in their neighborhoods! Management and landlords can try to repress the movement, but abuse from management only creates the energy that drives tenants to resist and take their neighborhood into their own hands!
The tenants of Paradise Oaks demand:
- End all evictions for nonpayment.
- Debt forgiveness for back rent accrued during the pandemic.
- Set up water for each tenant directly through the City of San Marcos.
- Reimbursement for repairs made by tenants due to management and landlord negligence.
- Drop all retaliatory lawsuits against tenant organizers.