FHFA Seeks Public Input on Tenant Protections at Properties with Federal Financing like Southern Towers Apartments
ALEXANDRIA, VA – People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign and African Communities Together today hosted the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Sandra Thompson for a tour of Southern Towers Apartments in Alexandria, Virginia. Southern Towers is owned by the CIM Group, a major private equity landlord, who financed their acquisition of the property through a $346.7 million loan from Freddie Mac. Since then, tenants have endured uninhabitable conditions and rent hikes. Within six months of their purchase, CIM filed evictions on 250 tenants during the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing at Southern Towers is what happens when we allow corporations to commodify the human right to housing and put profit over lives,” said Sosseh Prom, Housing Program Director, African Communities Together. “Immigrant families and blue collar workers deserve to be safely housed, and we cannot afford to sit back and watch their displacement.”
“Imagine finding out that your kid has developed asthma because of the unresolved mold in your AC unit. Or finding out that the leak coming from your ceiling has grown into a flood. 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,” said Haram Elsheikh, Southern Towers tenant.
Since 2020, African Communities Together has organized with Southern Towers tenants, the majority of whom are African immigrants and refugees, to hold CIM Group accountable. In March, a tenant from Southern Towers joined the Homes Guarantee’s tenant delegation for a meeting with Thompson at the FHFA headquarters.
The tour came weeks after the FHFA announced a new request for input (RFI) on conditioning government-backed loans to corporate landlords with a set of tenant protections including rent regulations. FHFA regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government entities that work with banks to provide federally-backed loans to purchase housing like the Southern Towers Apartments.
“Today tenants live at the mercy of corporate landlords like CIM Group, whose business models rely on regular and aggressive rent hikes,” said Tara Raghuveer, campaign director for People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign. “Director Thompson’s tour of Southern Towers signals the agency taking seriously tenants’ call to condition loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with protections like rent regulations.”
CIM Group has a national reputation for displacing brown and Black tenants and ignoring poor living conditions and maintenance of their apartment complexes. In August 2020, corporate landlord CIM Group purchased the Southern Towers, a 2,300 unit complex with a $346.7 million government-backed loan through Freddie Mac. In September 2020, despite the eviction moratorium, CIM Group filed to evict more than 250 households and announced 9-percent rent increases.
Photos and videos from the tour may be found here.
People’s Action builds the power of poor and working people in urban, rural, and suburban areas to win change through issue fights and elections. We are a national network of 40 state and local grassroots power-building organizations in 29 states–united in the work of building a bigger “we.”
African Communities Together is an organization of African immigrants fighting for civil rights, opportunity, and a better life for African families in the U.S. and worldwide. ACT connects African immigrants to critical services, helps Africans develop as leaders, and organizes African immigrant communities on the issues that matter.
Contact: Johanna Kichton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.660.0605