Austin: Housing Struggles Continue to Escalate

By Wanda Fuentes

Management and leasing office of Springdale Gardens

Springdale Gardens

Late Monday night graffiti reading “Fire Regina Wright,” who is the property manager at Springdale Gardens and “Fight back against slumlords” was splashed in red paint across the leasing and management office of the east side apartment complex. Springdale Gardens has seen an explosion in class struggle after the whole property went without gas for the month of February due to management’s failure to maintain the property.

While the gas outage that sparked the struggle has now been resolved, the slum conditions, some of the worst in Austin, have not improved. The struggle continues as the situation for residents has only become more difficult with the current health crisis.

According to a spokesperson for revolutionary organization Defend our Hoodz-Defiende el Barrio (DOH), who has taken up organizing to support the tenants, “Regina is particularly despised by the people due to her abuse of authority.” He explained that many activists and residents consider her a petty tyrant.

Several residents have expressed that Wright is deserving of violent retaliation far worse than vandalism.

The approximately 400 residents of the complex are 99% Black and Chicano, the vast majority are supportive of the struggle. Only those engaged in parasitic anti-people activities have expressed support of the corrupt management.

Among other things, Wright has a reputation among residents for evicting people, sometimes entire families for the most minor lease violations in order to move in her friends. Lease violations are issued for breaking absurd rules against having extended family over to visit and planting flowers in an attempt to beautify the complex and improve their living conditions.

DOH is calling for “firing Regina Wright, immediate rent stoppage, and an end to the evictions,” as well as a general citywide Rent Strike starting April 1. 

Poster with demands glued to the management and leasing office at Springdale Gardens

A large poster was placed on one side of the office containing a list of 15 demands:

  1. Fire Regina Wright
  2. Immediate rent stoppage
  3. Waive all back rent
  4. Stop on all utility bills
  5. Stop on all evictions
  6. Stop on all lease violations
  7. Stop calling the police on tenants and our guests
  8. Stop all towing
  9. Stop charging for all maintenance
  10. 14 days for all repairs
  11. Hot water pressure in all buildings
  12. One week notice before inspections
  13. New appliances for all units
  14. New washers and dryers (for the complex’s laundry room)
  15. Fire pervert Jose (a maintenance man who is known for sexually harassing women in the complex, entering apartments without announcing himself, and going through women’s underwear drawers. Jose’s last name was not included in the poster, and we have reached out to find his full name without success at the time of publication)
A Springdale Gardens tenant reports on seeing the graffiti on the leasing office.

Quad West

Poster at Quad West

Revolutionary posters have appeared at the Quad West apartments, formerly known as Ballpark West, demanding “No rent without work or wages” and calling for immediate rent stoppage, and a stop to all utility bills. The posters also made the call for residents to join the rent strike starting April 1.

The posters contain DOH logos and activists report that they were designed and distributed by the residents. For over a year the residents of Quad West as well as surrounding complexes have been organized by DOH against the developer Presidium Group, which seeks to turn the mainly working class and affordable student housing into condominiums and luxury shopping centers dubbed the “Domain on Riverside.”

Conditions have worsened for working class residents in Quad West, after being abandoned by management with maintenance issues continuing to accumulate. According to DOH, tenants have expressed strong support for the Rent Strike.

Office at Quad West

After the posters appeared, action was also taken against the leasing office. “Rent strike” was painted three times across the front of the leasing office and the slogan “No Rent without Work or Wages,” was painted across the side of the building.

No rent without work or wages

Social distancing and the “shelter in place” order have not stopped or diminished the housing struggles in East Austin. Working tenants do not have the luxury of standing down while landlords step on their rights. 

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