Tenants Union Pushing Back … Reminds Owners Who the Victims Are

VOICES--My name is Susan Hunter and I’m the caseworker with the Hollywood Local of the Los Angeles Tenants Union. You may know me better as the evil scheming blackmailer who is trying to harm your victim client for tons of money. At least that is what you called me in your latest press release. 

I get that you are charging a lot of money to help your client, Dynamic Development, into being able to develop a property at the corner of Western and Franklin Avenue. They want to put in 86 luxury units with 11 affordable in a mixed-use structure with retail on the ground floor blah, blah, same development description that we constantly hear, blah. The problem is your development is going to ultimately displace twelve low income tenants. Half of these tenants have lived without heat or hot water for over a year. They have had to deal with missing smoke detectors, windows barred shut, bed bugs, faulty plumbing, unpermitted construction, rotted wood, mold in the bathroom, clogged drains, shifting toilets, and a laundry list of other Dickensonian living conditions. They also had to pay $600 for a single bunk with four beds crammed into each room. But you already know all of this. 

Your client has been playing hot potato with the tenants and the stream of notices to comply coming in from city and county agencies. Your client and the previous property owner have kept the property in escrow for three years while claiming each other is responsible. Yet your client even hired on the previous property owner as a manager on the new project. Strange how they can all claim to be innocent victims when they are clearly working together to avoid responsibility. Of course, there is no ducking or dodging when it comes to asking the city for favors. Your client is front and center at City Hall for that. 

You claim that I am trying to hurt the only group who has taken responsibility for trying to help the tenants. So, while you sit in your comfortable home without worry of being cold or without hot water you think what you have done to these tenants qualifies as help? They are scared and rightfully so, they are losing the only home they are able to afford. Your client is pushing them to accept the 1/10th amount of what they should be entitled to under Ellis relocation and you think that qualifies as help? You are pitting these tenants against each other for a low-ball reduction of their rights and your client has the nerve to act like they are under attack? Too bad. You don’t get to bully tenants and think you have a right to get away with it. Certainly not when you stand to make millions of dollars for free because of changing the zoning of the property from residential to mixed used. 

Your client can certainly share in that blessing to the people they intend on throwing out in the streets. Of course, your client also has no problem expecting the tax payers to pick up the tab on the homeless services these tenants will need if they become homeless due to this development.You know how I know that I have already done the best job I can for these tenants? Because I made your client, a millionaire, so scared that they  hired your firm to write a letter to try and slam me. A caseworker, sticking up for low income tenants. 

Your client promised to take responsibility for these tenants nearly a month ago, but their heat and hot water is still turned off. And as to your claim that I am making a third off of what the tenants get, I charge between $40 to $60 to help each tenant. If you are only planning on offering three times that for relocation then this case is much worse than what I thought it was. And yes, you are right that I’m not registered with the state bar association. I’m not a lawyer and I have never claimed to be. Only people who do wrong need to surround themselves with multiple lawyers. Once the heat and hot water is back on, and once the conditions are returned to livable, the tenants will gladly end the rent strike. A rent strike the tenants were forced into when Dynamic refused to accept rent money.


(Susan Hunter – LATU Hollywood Local Case Worker with the Hollywood Local of the Los Angeles Tenants Union. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of CityWatch ownership or staff. )