Tucson tenants organize to fight evictions and soaring rents
Tenants and supporters rallied and picketed Tucson's eastside Monterey Garden apartment complex protesting evictions and unconscionable rent increases. Steve Valencia/PW

TUCSON—Some fifty tenants and supporters rallied and picketed Tucson’s eastside Monterey Garden apartment complex protesting evictions and unconscionable rent increases on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 22.

After learning of sweeping evictions taking place at Monterey Garden Apartments the Tucson Tenants Union, joined by Jobs with Justice Arizona, and Casa Maria Catholic Worker Collective delivered a letter to Complex Management demanding they explore options for vulnerable tenants at risk of immediate eviction more time to find new, adequate housing.

After canvassing the premises and speaking with dozens of Monterey Garden residents The Tenants Union learned that most tenants have been denied lease renewals while only a select few were allowed to renew. The majority of these tenants are low-income, disabled, and/or recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers.

The Tenants union noted a pattern of misleading, coercive, and unethical behavior by the management company. Some tenants also reported code violations and predatory fines being added to their rent.

The Landlord claims this mass eviction is needed to remodel, and raise rents. The Tenants union points to many better options for keeping tenants housed during remodeling.  Tenants can be temporarily moved to other units, or the remodeling can be delayed while tenants are given the time to secure housing elsewhere. Many vulnerable residents are in direct danger of becoming homeless.

The Tenants union called the action to bring attention to this grave injustice, noting, “We want to send a resounding message to management companies and landlords, here and across the city, that housing is a human right and tenants are not alone… The right to universal safe and secure housing will only be won with a movement that builds collective power and is led by those most affected: communities of color and the working poor.”

At the opening rally Tenants Union organizer, Zaira Livier, said they were aware of at least five tenants who have nowhere to go but the streets so they asked the management, to give them a little more time.  “We thought if we asked them nicely and appeal to their heart…”  It was ignored.

Former Resident, Cathy Ward, told the gathering that she was forced out when told her rent would be increased by some 45%, an amount she couldn’t afford.  Other Monterey Garden residents said they were notified on Christmas Eve, or the day before, that their leases would not be renewed, or that they were facing huge increases. It seemed timed just to spoil their holiday.  Obviously, the landlords have no hearts to appeal to.

Jobs with Justice leader, Steve Valencia, explained that the problem is a structural crisis of capitalism and that a tremendously large movement is needed to make for humane policies.  “We can’t win these battles without solidarity”, he added.

After the short rally participants walked the half block to Speedway for an anti-eviction picket where they were greeted with honks of support from Rush hour commuters.


Joe Bernick
Joe Bernick

Joe Bernick is the Director of Salt of the Earth Labor College, Tucson, Arizona.