Seven Oaks tenants and activists pack into city hall, calling on mayor for support

Group has been pushing against new owner over what it sees as ‘unfair’ eviction notices and subpar conditions

Fed up with what they see as subpar conditions at Seven Oaks Apartments on the Northwest Side, activists and renters loudly called for Mayor Ron Nirenberg's help on Tuesday at City Hall.

SAN ANTONIO – Chanting and carrying signs, a group of activists from the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) and renters at Seven Oaks Apartments on the Northwest Side crammed into the lobby of city hall Tuesday, clamoring for Mayor Ron Nirenberg to join their cause.

The group has been pushing against what it sees as “unfair” eviction notices and subpar conditions at the apartment complex, such as air conditioning issues, a lack of hot water, water damage, and roaches.

“We want to be able to have our families come over without feeling disgraced because there’s roaches crawling across their feet,” tenant Twonya Mondy told members of the media.

The group sent a list of demands to the apartment management on June 23, which included fixing all reported maintenance issues within 72 hours, no tenants forced to move until Dec. 23, $6,000 worth of relocation assistance per unit, and no record of any attempted or completed evictions.

Although city code enforcement is already involved at the complex, the renters and activists also want Nirenberg -- who was not present at City Hall when they arrived -- to throw his political weight behind them.

Achievement Properties, which acquired Seven Oaks in November 2021, is part of Achieve Investment Group, which lists the complex as one of its 14 “existing assets” in San Antonio.

“We want (Nirenberg’s) public support,” said TOP Housing Justice Organizer Ashton Condel. “We want him to stand strong with us. We want him to issue a public statement. We want him to meet with the tenants here to understand the severity of what we’re going through. And we want him to start putting pressure on Achieve Investment Group and (CEO) James Kandasamy in the form of written letters, emails and phone calls. We want the full force of city government to come down on our slumlords, not just at Seven Oaks but across the city.”

Officials say the city government has been involved in the saga at Seven Oaks, including assigning a Neighborhood and Housing Services Department liaison, receiving 33 relocation assistance applications from residents, and funding temporary lodging for approximately 19 households.

District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval has also spent campaign funds to help put residents up at a motel, and the county spent some money as a stopgap for city assistance.

Code enforcement officers have also been to the property multiple times since June and have issued 24 citations, totaling more than $7,000.

“We’ve issued them notices. They didn’t fix it fast enough -- what we consider fast enough -- and now we’re in the citation phase. And I’m hoping that encourages them to make the necessary repairs for the people that are living there or the future people that are going to live there as well,” said Development Services Director Michael Shannon.

Colin Strother, a spokesman for Achieve Properties, told KSAT that the 254-unit property was already in bad shape when the company acquired it.

Strother said the company is working on a $2 million rehabilitation program to renovate the complex and rebrand it under a new name.

Achieve has spent roughly $208,000 so far and completed almost 500 work orders, Strother said. He blamed problems with getting contractors on site and some supply chain issues for some of the seemingly slow progress.

“The biggest challenge we’ve had thus far is residents not submitting work orders and then denying us access -- our repair people access -- to the property. If we don’t know about it and we can’t gain access to the property, we can’t fix it,” Strother said.

Regarding evictions, Strother said there had been 28 people who hadn’t paid their rent, 21 of whom were ultimately evicted.

Strother also said there has been a “disconnect” between the number of work orders the property owner has received and the “number of people complaining” to TOP and Councilwoman Sandoval.

Achieve has opened up a 24-hour hotline for tenants and is inviting residents to come in for interviews and assessments to discuss what they think is deficient, Strother said.

While Strother pointed out that Achieve has only owned the property since late 2021, the city says that doesn’t matter.

“They’ve been the owner for a little while now, and they had the opportunity to fix some of the stuff before we got involved. And they haven’t. And that’s a problem,” Shannon said.

As for the mayor, Nirenberg said in a statement that his staff “will meet with residents in the near future.”

However, Condel said the group expects nothing less than a meeting with the mayor himself.


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About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.