Housing Justice at Southern Towers | #ACT4SouthernTowers
For decades, Southern Towers has been an affordable place to live in Alexandria, Virginia, particularly for immigrants and low-wage workers. Nearly two-thirds of Southern Towers residents are Black, and over 60% of residents are foreign-born. More than three-quarters of immigrants are from Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, these residents are fighting to stay in their homes amidst a rapidly gentrifying region and predatory housing practices by their landlord, CIM Group.
CIM is a Los Angeles-based private real estate company that purchased Southern Towers in 2020 for $506 million, with financial support from Freddie Mac and investment from public pension funds. The purchase of Southern Towers was one of the largest multifamily transaction of 2020 and one of the biggest in Alexandria's history.
Southern Towers tenants have organized hundreds of their fellow tenants to rally and protest to ask management to meet their demands. Tenants demands have fallen on deaf ears. Through the #ACT4SouthernTowers campaign, tenants have been raising their voices for dignified, safe, and affordable housing for themselves and their neighbors.
Looking for ways to help? You can use our social media toolkit to amplify and support our campaign today!
[NEW] "CIM Group: In the Headlines" Report
In a new report by African Communities Together and Private Equity Stakeholder Project, we cover 15 years of CIM in the headlines, highlighting a range of issues including CIM’s mistreatment of blue-collar, immigrant tenants; its gentrification of neighborhoods of color; community opposition to CIM development plans; construction defects; and CIM’s real estate deals with former president, Donald Trump.
Documentary: Housing Justice at Southern Towers
- Stop using the Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) to charge tenants for utilities at Southern Towers, and revert back to the complex’s previous billing model where tenants were only required to pay for trash and water.
- Cap rent increases at 2%.
- Conduct an immediate and thorough campus-wide investigation to determine the pervasiveness of mold and maintenance issues, and develop a comprehensive report detailing findings and proposed solutions.
- Do not charge tenants the difference in rent in instances where tenants must be moved into another apartment due to maintenance and/or mold remediation in their unit.
- Withdraw eviction filings/writs for all units that did not receive adequate 30-day eviction notices as per the CARES Act.
- Amend 5-day eviction notices so that tenants in buildings with federally-backed mortgages are clearly and unequivocally informed of their right to receive a 30-day notice.
- Stop filing evictions against tenants who are only one month behind on rent, and make good faith efforts to work with tenants to set up effective payment plans.
- Stop filing evictions against tenants who are behind solely on utility payments.
- Stop forcing tenants into month-to-month leases and make good faith efforts to work with tenants to ensure their safe and stable housing.
- Accept promissory notes from community-based organizations (CBOs) and government entities that have approved of rent relief for tenants, and withdraw any eviction writs for tenants who have received such promissory notes.
- Commit to providing proper language access to tenants with limited English proficiency. Ex.: translating leasing docs and notices.
- Provide tenants and relevant stakeholders with periodic updates regarding progress made on executing these demands.
Download the comprehensive list of tenant demands here:
Invested in Evictions 2021 Report
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CIM Group was the biggest single-source of eviction filings in the City of Alexandria. Read our 2021 report on how their eviction practices were displacing Southern Towers residents and gentrifying the wider community in Alexandria, Virginia.
FHFA & Freddie Mac Complaint
African Communities Together filed a complaint with the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Freddie Mac in November 2022 (also read the addendum).
Press Coverage and Related Information
- Business Insider: A band of immigrant tenants went to war with their $31 billion landlord. It's a sneak peek at what's to come across America.
- VICE: People Are Organizing to Fight the Private Equity Firms Who Own Their Homes
- ALX Now: Southern Towers residents and activists protest rent increases and lingering health issues
- Read more coverage by ALXNow here.
- NPR: Tenants In Northern Virginia Apartment Complex Worry About Eviction
- ALX Now: Southern Towers gets a visit from the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
- ALX Now: Senators Warner and Kaine task Southern Towers owners to resolve eviction conflict with residents
- WYNC: Trump and Kushner’s Little-Known Business Partner
- World Architects: Residents Sue Developer of 432 Park Avenue
Fair, safe, and affordable housing is a human right that should be afforded to all people. You can help ensure that tenants of Southern Towers are treated with dignity and respect. Use the tools below to take a stand for tenants of Southern Towers and across Alexandria.
As blue-collar workers, we are already working hard to make ends meet with the rising cost of living. We should not also be forced to fight our landlord to compel them to simply do their job and provide us with habitable living conditions.Tewodros t.