DETROIT – Tenants and community organizations gathered in Detroit on Sunday to rally for housing justice.
The group met at Redmond Plaza in Midtown and marched to bring awareness to the challenges renters are dealing with.
“I see that a lot of marginalized, oppressed groups of people are facing the worst conditions and are facing the worst landlords,” said Sammie Lewis of Detroit Eviction Defense. “They have fire hazards, they have mold and things like that, and then when they bring up these issues, instead of fixing it their landlords just double down.”
Lewis says the rally on Sunday was to unite and shed light on issues like retaliatory evictions and the fact that tenants have rights. “They’re being retaliated against because they spoke up against their management,” she said.
It’s a struggle Detroiter Steven Rimmer knows all too well. He lives in New Center Plaza in Detroit. At one point, the elevator in the multiple-story building was down for more than seven months.
Read: New Center Plaza Apartments residents demand answers after elevator sits broken for 7 months
“It’s been a little over a year now that we’ve been dealing with landlord issues, maintenance issues in our building and we’ve been organizing since; just trying to get some sort of relationship between the landlord so he can address these issues,” Rimmer said.
He created Detroit Tenants Association to bring together others going through the same thing. The association currently has an online petition for a right to renew.
“My landlord told me I could not renew because I was basically a troublemaker for my organizing,” Rimmer said. “I feel like it’s retaliation from me organizing and I have that right, freedom of speech.”
The hope is that tenants leave knowing they are not alone, and that they have options.
“We have more power once we unite. These landlords think they have the power, they do have the money, that makes it a little harder for us on our end, but that’s why it’s important for all the people to come together and fight,” Rimmer said.
For additional resources, visit Detroit Eviction Defense’s website by clicking here.
Also: Residents of Detroit apartment building wait months for lone elevator to be repaired