Austin – Renters and activists brought signs, a megaphone, and a small crowd to the Austin offices of a San Antonio apartment complex’s heavily-criticized landlord.
Tenants of the Seven Oaks Apartments on the Northwest Side and members of the Texas Organizing Project have been pushing against what they 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. San Antonio Code Enforcement has issued 24 citations for the property so far.
Two busloads of people, including T.O.P. members from the Dallas and Houston areas, shouted chants like “no housing, no peace” in front of Achieve Properties’ office Monday morning on the northwest side of Austin.
Joining the group were Democratic congressional candidate for the 35th District, Greg Casar, and San Antonio Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, whose district includes the 254-unit apartment complex.
“We can regulate everything you do as a city. But what we do expect is that you treat these people with dignity and respect and honor the lease that they had when you came in,” Sandoval said, addressing executives from Achieve Properties.
The group of renters and activists previously sent a list of demands to the owner in June, 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.
Achieve Properties, which bought the apartment complex in late November 2021, is linked to the Achieve Investment Group, whose CEO, James Kandasamy, has been the primary target of the tenants and activists’ anger and criticism.
In a video that T.O.P. says had been posted to, and later deleted from his Youtube page, Kandasamy appears in front of the Seven Oaks Apartments, describing changes to the complex like new paint and fences.
“And you know, after that, this is where we’re going to start to, to lease up, right, on this asset, right -- where we’re going to change demographic and you know, tenants profile in this asset. And that’s really, really hard and -- but it’s going to be fun,” Kandasamy says in the video.
Speaking with KSAT after the protest, Achieve Properties V.P. of Operations Daniel Simpson said they are not accepting new tenants using Section 8 housing vouchers, but existing tenants “are not being asked to move because they are Section 8.”
He denied the company was trying to get rid of tenants, saying the only ones who would have an issue are those who aren’t paying their rent or who are doing something illegal on the property.
Simpson also said that “as of the other day,” there were only a “handful of work orders that were not 100 percent complete” and pointed to progress Achieve had made in cleaning up the property.
“So the bottom line is we’re here to help. We really are,” Simpson said. “It just doesn’t seem to feel like that to a handful of residents.”