Stand Up Nashville advocates join national group in Washington to call for housing equality

Advocates in Washington
Advocates in Washington(Stand Up Nashville)
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 9:06 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSMV) - Members from Stand Up Nashville joined more than 100 tenant activists in disrupting the National Multifamily Housing Council’s annual fall conference Tuesday. This meeting was one of the nation’s largest annual gatherings of corporate landlords.

When the group disrupted the meeting, Stand Up Nashville officials said they called on lawmakers, including those attending the conference, to reject real estate lobby money and stop opposing vital tenant protections at the behest of real estate groups and developers as post-pandemic rental rates have risen faster than in the previous 20 years.

SUN was a significant part of the protest surrounding the closure of the Riverchase Apartments after residents were forced to find a new home due to the redevelopment of the complex.

“After months of negotiating for the tenants at RiverChase and years of advocating in Nashville, we’ve seen firsthand how little corporate developers seem to care about the people who live in the properties they own,” said Nathaniel Carter, Director of Workforce and Employment for SUN and participant in the action in Washington. “Many of them will fight tooth and nail at Council, the state legislature, and in Congress to avoid having any sort of accountability to the people they make money off of.”

Advocates in Washington
Advocates in Washington(Stand Up Nashville)

SUN officials said when the advocates took to the floor inside the conference room; they recounted their experiences living in properties owned by members of the NMHC. The group also rallied outside before and after the meeting.

“My landlord raised my rent by $266 a month but won’t deal with cockroaches, flooding, and electrical issues,” said Erika Reyes, a Colorado community leader with United for a New Economy and tenant of NMHC member Security Properties Residential. Her senator Michael Bennet spoke at the conference in Washington D.C. “I came here today because my kids and I deserve to have a safe and stable place to call home.”

Other demands made by the advocates during the meeting include:

- Disclosing all lobbying expenditures against tenant protections at the city, state, and national levels.

- Cease their opposition to rent control initiatives.

- Set standards for tenant protections all NMHC member landlords must follow, including cause eviction protections, caps on rent increases, habitability standards, grievance processes, and the free recognition of tenant unions, and expel landlords who refuse to meet these standards.

“The rent continues to skyrocket out of control, and meanwhile, we deal with lack of maintenance, harassment and live with the constant fear of being evicted for any reason,” said Anne Marine McKellop, a tenant activist with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and a Blackstone tenant.