On July 28, the Pasadena Tenants Union held a press conference to stop the evictions of numerous tenants on North Euclid in Pasadena. A press release published by the PTU the day before was sufficient for the landlords to rescind their eviction notices. The success of the PTU speaks to the power of organizing a militant working-class response.
Tenants voiced their grievances in the press conference about the housing system in Pasadena. Jessica Workman, a local tenant, explained that she had lived in the community for many years and was upset to see her home among those “planned to be remodeled into luxury apartments.” She has experienced regular utility shutoffs, assumed to be harassment from her landlord to force her to move out.
Similar harassment stories were told by Leola and Mary Lesure, also local tenants. They told Liberation News that maintenance workers would “come in at 7:30 a.m. and turn our water off with no notice. They would even work from the morning to 10 and 11 p.m. at night.”
As tenants in their neighborhood began to get organized, the landlords were forced to cut back on harassment. “When they first started it was like 2 or 3 times a week that they were doing this, but since people started pushing back they began to spread this out more and have been leaving around 4:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. now,” Mary Lesure said.
None of these stories are new to PTU, which has been organizing tenants in the area for the last 5 years. With the intensity of the struggle for housing deepening over the last 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession, PTU has increased its efforts and won some key victories, including legal eviction protections for tenants and geting a rent control bill on the ballot for the November elections.
Community member Martha Robinson elaborated at the press conference on the need for such a policy. “This is inhumane, and the city must do something … to prevent an investor from coming in and kicking faithful, good citizens out on the streets.”
Notably absent from the press conference were any members from the Pasadena City Council.
More information about the PTU can be found here.
Featured photo: Pasadena Tenants Union.