(Updated at 11 a.m. on June 29) U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to CIM Group highlighting the concerns of residents regarding evictions, increased rents and living conditions at their Southern Towers Apartments complex.
In a letter Monday, the Virginia Democrats urged the building owner to resolve long standing disputes with residents. Since buying the property at the height of the pandemic in 2020, residents have protested against evictions, claiming that CIM Group has raised rents and evicted hundreds of residents from deteriorating properties.
“Tenants have shared with our offices that, under CIM ownership, they have been subjected to eviction filings during the eviction moratorium, changes in how utilities are billed combined with rent increases that have led to substantial price hikes, and unaddressed maintenance issues that pose health and safety risks,” the senators wrote. “Further, tenants have voiced that CIM issued unclear eviction notices indicating that tenants who were late on their rent payments had only five days to ‘pay rent or, alternatively, to terminate lease and vacate premises’ – only mentioning later in the notice that tenants located on a ‘covered property’ as defined by the CARES Act were entitled to a 30-day notice before vacating.”
Protests against CIM Group have been led by the People’s Actions Homes Guarantee campaign and African Communities Together (ACT), which say that Southern Towers residents are at the mercy of a major private equity landlord that only cares about profit.
Consequently, last month Southern Towers also got a visit from the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
CIM Group says that they only 31 residents have been evicted due to non-payment, and that living conditions have improved under their ownership.
CIM Group sent ALXnow the following statement:
CIM Group has long been a proud member of the Alexandria, VA community as the owner and operator of several properties, including Southern Towers where the firm took over operations in 2020. It was immediately clear to Southern Towers Management that they needed to address years of deferred maintenance and make important quality-of-life improvements to the development including long-overdue roof replacements; renovation of apartments, corridors, and common areas; resurfacing parking areas and tennis courts; new playgrounds and much more.
While Southern Towers is not an affordable housing community, CIM Group has worked diligently to keep rent 20% below comparable properties in Alexandria, while at the same time, making significant improvements to the habitability of Southern Towers. Residents have always paid a portion of their utilities and continue to be responsible for the costs they incur.
Southern Towers Management has never violated the CARES Act or any local, state or Federal laws. In fact, CIM Group is legally required to utilize a form provided by the State of Virginia–referred to as a 5-Day Notice–to notify residents when they are in arrears. CIM Group has no control over the language used in the form and any call for modifications should be directed to the State of Virginia.
Despite much disinformation, Southern Towers Management will not be deterred from their commitment to the community they serve, their legal obligation and the fiduciary duty the company has to investors who have also helped improve the living conditions at Southern Towers from what existed prior to CIM Group’s ownership.
CIM Group has made significant improvements for the overall wellbeing of the residents at Southern Towers, including:
- Providing assistance during the pandemic to residents who suffered financial setbacks that resulted in more than $5 million in rental assistance secured for hundreds of families.
- Increasing the level of regular maintenance well beyond what was the norm under the prior owner by 96%, which is more than $8.2M to address significant deferred maintenance issues.
- Instituting an online resident portal that provides transparent and open communication, as well as a seamless way for residents to submit work orders, which expedites necessary repair and maintenance.
- Prioritizing community involvement by organizing farmers markets, job fairs, food drives, and vaccination clinics.
- Engaging residents in a transparent and ongoing way by holding monthly meetings and appreciation events, as well as communicating important dates and information in the resident portal, as well as the weekly and monthly newsletters.
Fostering a secure and healthy environment by:
- Installing security cameras in each elevator landing in each tower and upgrading cameras on the lobby level in each tower. The entire project is anticipated to be completed by the end of July 2024.
- Upgrading all smoke detectors and replacing every unit on the campus with smoke detector/CO2 combo units.
- Repairing the retaining wall near the Ashlawn.
- Installing Flock Security – license plate reading cameras installed at each entrance to the property.
- Upgrading the fire alarm panel at Sherwood.
- Purchasing a new Jeep for patrolling the campus.
- Performing a thorough Pest Control inspection and preventative treatments of all common areas and every apartment home as well as sealing of any holes found during the inspection.
Making material upgrades to improve the quality of living at Southern Towers:
- Making significant laundry room upgrades, including purchasing new washer and dryer equipment for each floor at every building. The new equipment also included upgraded payment panel allowing residents the option to use cash, credit/debit cards or an app to pay for service.
- Enhancing and upgrading the dog park.
- Tennis Court resurfacing, striping and new nets. Upgrade also included replacing the solo player wall.
- Resurfacing the overflow parking area.
- Asphalt resurfacing at Beauregard entrance near The Graham and Monticello.
- Replacing all of the playground equipment.
- Beautifying the property including removing 26 dead or rotting trees from the campus and pruned trees in the community park to raise tree canopy by 3 feet, allowing better sight lines.
- Replacing 4 outdoor gas grills at Graham.
- Installing new grilling areas throughout the community park.
- Expanding concrete pads at grilling areas which include new accessible seating.
- Installing a new pergola over the grilling area closest to the Monticello pool.
- Complete resurfacing of the Monticello main and small pools.
- HVAC convector project completed at the Sherwood.
- HVAC system inspections completed across the campus.
- Window and Balcony door mock-ups completed at Ashlawn and Monticello. Each building scheduled for full window replacement byQ4 2023.
The full letter from Warner and Kaine is below. Read More
The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency visited Southern Towers in the West End this week, signalling to housing advocates that years of protests against rent hikes and evictions are finally paying off.
On Wednesday, FHFA Director Sandra Thompson toured the 2,261-unit Southern Towers complex at 4901 Seminary Road. The tour was hosted by the People’s Actions Homes Guarantee campaign and African Communities Together (ACT), and the groups say that affordable housing residents are at the mercy of a major private equity landlord that only cares about profit. The groups say that since buying the property at the height of the pandemic in 2020, California-based owner CIM Group has evicted more than 250 residents, and that many of them endured uninhabitable conditions and rent increases.
“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.”
CIM Group, however, says that only 31 residents have been evicted due to non-payment, and that 158 eviction notices were filed with the District Court in Alexandria.
“Southern Towers Management has, and will continue, to support individual residents of the community and work cooperatively with all stakeholders including the Federal Housing Finance Agency,” CIM said in a statement. “Southern Towers Management has never violated the CARES Act and despite continued malicious attempts to paint Southern Towers Management as a faceless Wall Street investor, management will not be deterred from their commitment to the community they serve, their legal obligation and the fiduciary duty the company has to investors who have helped improve the living conditions at Southern Towers from what existed prior to CIM Group’s ownership.”
Thompson’s tour was not open to press, and FHFA had no further comment beyond last month’s request for input (RFI) to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to study easing multifamily tenant protections on properties they finance. One of those properties is Southern Towers, which CIM Group bought with a $346.7 million government-backed loan through Freddie Mac.
“The Enterprises have a responsibility to not only ensure liquidity is available for affordable rental housing, but also to address challenges faced by tenants and property owners in the multifamily housing market,” Thompson said in a statement last month. “FHFA is seeking public input to help identify these challenges nationwide, particularly in underserved communities.”
Thompson’s tour was made six months after ACT filed a complaint with FHFA and Freddie Mac. In that complaint, ACT said CIM Group is “using the federal funds received from Freddie Mac to finance predatory behavior in an affordable community.”
In Alexandria, CIM Group owns Mason at Van Dorn, a 1,180-unit residential community, and Park Place at Van Dorn, a 285-unit residential community. CIM also converted the former Crowne Plaza Hotel Alexandria at 901 N. Fairfax into the upscale Venue apartment complex.
Southern Towers resident Haram Elsheikh said that residents should not be forced to fight a landlord for habitable living conditions.
“Imagine finding out that your kid has developed asthma because of the unresolved mold in your AC unit,” Elsheikh said. “As blue-collar workers, we are already working hard to make ends meet with the rising cost of living.”
A video of the years-long residential protest is below.
During a City Council meeting last night, discussion of a new report shed light on property owners discriminating against residents who received eviction protection aid — a move the city says is illegal.
Helen McIlvaine, director of the Office of Housing, and housing analyst Kim Cadena shared a report on the specifics of where the city’s housing investments are going.
The report had been part of the consent calendar, items typically approved in a bundle without discussion, but City Council member Sarah Bagley said she pulled the item out of the consent calendar to address an ongoing legal struggle between some property owners and city residents.
In a section about protected classes in Virginia, the section notes that it’s illegal to discriminate based on the source of funding from a renter or buyer of housing, notably including any assistance, benefit or subsidy program.
“One of the questions that I had related to the source of income: is receiving funds from an eviction prevention program, is that a source of income?” Bagley asked. “Can a landlord refuse to take eviction prevention funding from the city or from a church?”
Mcilvaine said that kind of discrimination is something her office has been dealing with recently.
“That issue has come up quite recently because we’re aware of properties in the city that are not renewing leases for households that had been receiving assistance during the pandemic,” McIlvaine said. “We are currently working with the city attorney’s office as well as local counsel. We believe that would be evidence of discrimination.”
Bagley said the issue is worth bringing up so local residents know that, at least from the city’s assessment, it’s likely this kind of discrimination is illegal.
“That’s one of the primary reasons I wanted to call out this presentation,” Bagley said. “I want to encourage people not to hesitate to accept relief if it’s available because it’s our understanding at present that that would fall under the source of income protected class.”
Bagley told ALXnow that the eviction prevention program should help between 50-100 households in Alexandria avoid eviction — and that discrimination for utilizing these funds could be illegal:
The program originally had $100,000 for FY24 but after last night should be at $270,000. The program currently caps household relief at $5,000 per household but given the average payment that fund should assist between 50-100 households avoid eviction (in addition to those who receive support through incredible network of faith based and other community resources in the city).
As the City of Alexandria gets ready to kick off its advocacy for the upcoming general assembly session, one of the main talking points is how the city could use more help from the state in handling affordable housing.
Meronne Teklu, speaking on behalf of the Economic Opportunities Commission, the Landlord-Tenant Relations Board and the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee, told the City Council this weekend that each of the groups expressed concerns about the rising rate of evictions.
Teklu said that this year, there were 873 eviction notices filed, a roughly 172% increase from 2021 — when many landlords were legally prohibited from filing evictions. Of those being evicted, Teklu said only 13% of tenants receive legal representation.
Additionally, a count of Alexandrians experiencing homeleness recorded 120 people, an increase of 13% over the previous year.
“We’re glad to see legislative packet prioritizes legislation to provide diverse housing opportunities and budget items preventing evictions, protecting families and individuals facing various housing challenges,” Teklu said.
Among those positive priorities in the legislative package, Teklu said, is a reinstatement of a 14-day requirement to pay-0or-quit notices.
Teklu’s commentary was underscored by testimony by testimony from residents of Southern Towers — a largely workforce-affordable housing complex in the West End where rent increases are outpacing wages.
Residents of Southern Towers spoke at the City Council and described the dire situation of residents working multiple jobs and still being unable to keep up with rent payments in one of the city’s last bastions of market affordable housing.
Sami Bourma said residents are putting together a new organization called Southern Towers United.
“it’s not easy to do so, with most of us working two jobs with up to five family members,” Bourma said. “For most of us, our rent is not what the city would call naturally affordable. In the West End, affordable [qualifies as] an income up to 60% of the area median income. I have five family members, and I do not come close to that level of income even if I had two members… and I have two jobs.”
Other residents said called the situation in Southern Towers “inhumane” and begged the City Council to intervene. Bourma said the hopes to get the developer to not increase rents above 2% annually. Residents and community organizers protested against building owners The CIM Group last month.
With a potential wave of evictions incoming next month, a group representing tenants of Southern Towers is trying to indirectly pressure the building’s owner into giving residents a reprieve.
The 2,261-unit Southern Towers complex at 4901 Seminary Road is one of the last bastions of market-rate affordable housing — housing that’s affordable without being set at a certain level by agreement with the local government. The West End building was purchased in 2020 by California-based real estate company CIM Group.
While there were some eviction protections put in place during the pandemic, CIM Group still pursued eviction proceedings against some residents, and tenant advocacy group African Communities Together has expressed concerns those evictions could escalate now that Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) has closed its application process.
The RRP was created during the pandemic to keep families in place as job loss impacted local residents’ ability to pay rent. But with the application window closing, the City of Alexandria said in a release that eviction protections put in place with that program will expire starting on June 1.
Bert Bayou, director of African Communities Together, said affordable housing advocates are scrambling to put together protections for residents.
“This came as a surprise,” said Bayou. “We were expecting this program to continue. This came so quickly and was a shock to the community that it was ending on May 15. We were still trying to get data on how many people used this program for rent relief but still not provided by the state.”
Bayou said that many of Southern Towers’ residents are service-industry employees or Uber drivers who work in jobs that haven’t fully returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“We know this community, we’ve been in this community for many years,” Bayou said. “These are service workers, hospitality workers, Uber drivers. Most of the jobs are dependent on federal workers coming back and they either haven’t or is still part-time. When this is over, when the eviction moratorium ends, we’re going to see a floodgate opening on evictions. It’s going to be massive.”
Bayou said in April 2021, African Communities Together did a study that found CIM Group had started 541 eviction proceedings since buying the property in 2020, and Bayou said they’ve seen another 50 or so since then.
ALXnow reached out to CIM Group to comment or confirm these numbers but received no response.
“They own around 9% of the apartment units in the city,” Bayou said, “but their eviction filings were about 25% of the total. That’s higher than any other landlord in the city.”
Bayou said they’ve tried to reach out to CIM Group to work out a way to offer rent relief for residents of Southern Towers who are still out of work, but that the real estate company will only negotiate with individual residents rather than with tenant groups.
“What we could do is for tenants to sit down collectively with CIM to address this and other issues, but CIM as a multi-billion dollar landlord could sit down and work with tenants not to be evicted and be homeless,” Bayou said. “CIM could do this. They’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars when they purchased the building. When they come to the city, there has to be some compassion from the landlord to talk to tenants.”
Instead, Bayou said they’re trying to target CIM Group’s investors to try to get them to apply pressure on the real estate company to come to the table. It is, admittedly, a long shot. It’s been one week since African Communities Together started to reach out to investors, and so far the few responses the group has received are from investors that say they’re no longer involved with CIM Group and haven’t been for years.
“They are real estate investors, but there are a good number of public pension funds that have invested in CIM,” Bayou said. “Those are the ones we are really focusing on. Most of the union members for which this pension is being invested would not support this kind of investment.”
African Communities Together is part of the city’s Eviction Prevention Task Force that’s been working on alternative rent relief programs, but it can’t fully replace the statewide program. The city is offering assistance like temporary housing and storage units, but can’t intervene to prevent evictions.
“There is some assistance available through the city for temporary housing and storage units and other assistance,” Bayou said. “I think that’s where we’ll be looking if this happens, but we’re trying not to think about that. We’re trying to keep tenants in their homes. If they lose this apartment building, there’s basically no affordable housing for them.”
A statewide rent relief program is closing to new applicants soon with eviction protections expiring soon after. The City of Alexandria is urging those in need to apply within the next week or lose access to rent relief.
The application portal for the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) is set to close on Sunday, May 15.
“RRP was created to keep families stably housed and landlords paid during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the city said in a release. “RRP emergency rental assistance is prioritized for households earning less than 50% of area median income or households with one or more members who have not been employed for the 90 days preceding the date of application.”
The program has distributed $713 million in rent relief statewide since it started in March 2022.
The city release also noted that starting July 1, several tenant eviction protections that were put into place during the pandemic will be expiring, including:
- A return to five-day notices to pay or face eviction (For the past year, landlords had to provide at least a 14-day notice to tenants.)
- Removal of the requirement to inform tenants of the availability of rental assistance (For the past year, landlords had to inform and help tenants apply for RRP before initiating eviction.)
- No requirement for landlords to provide notice of or offer payment plans
The city specified that, because landlords cannot proceed with eviction within 45 days of an RRP application being submitted, there is likely to be an influx of eviction proceedings starting around July 1.
“The City of Alexandria’s Eviction Prevention Task Force will continue to work with partners and stakeholders across the state to create comprehensive strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing, address and prevent evictions and reduce barriers in housing,” the release said.
It was a busy fall week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.
Our top story this week was on a plan to completely close off the 100 block of King Street as a pedestrian-only zone. The plan has been in the works since 2019, and was put into action last year. ALXnow’s poll on the subject had very one-sided results, showing 91% (791 votes) in favor of a permanent change.
There was a momentous groundbreaking this week, as city leaders converged for the $454.4 million RiverRenew Tunnel Project. The project is a major overhaul to replace Old Town’s combined sewer system and prevent 120 million gallons of combined sewage from flowing into the Potomac River.
School violence has become a major issue in Alexandria, as videos of fights at schools are surfacing on the internet, there have been arrests at Alexandria City Public Schools, and protests in front of City Hall on Monday and Tuesday this week.
As for the Alexandria juvenile who was shot in the upper body at the McDonald’s in the Bradlee Shopping Center last week, police say that there have been no arrests yet.
- AlexRenew breaks ground for massive Old Town RiverRenew project
- BREAKING: A bunch of student fights were recorded at George Washington Middle School and put on Instagram
- Last year’s Alexandria City High School class had the highest graduation rate and the lowest student dropout rate ever
- Union says low staffing within Alexandria Fire Department threatens to shut down a fire station
- Upcoming Alexandria City Council and School Board election forums announced
- School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says ACPS leadership will be challenged by high Board turnover
- First apartment building in massive Carlyle Crossing redevelopment starts pre-leasing
- DASH and city leaders celebrate launch of bus system overhaul
- Alexandria starts distributing COVID-19 booster shots
- City Manager lays out plan to push back on evictions in Alexandria
- City looks to permanently ‘pedestrianize’ a block of King Street
- UPDATE: Alexandria man charged with homicide after stabbing at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Landmark area
- Total Wine is taking shape in Potomac Yard
- ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
- Man buys luxury car with fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria
- Protestors rally to return police to Alexandria schools, but officials say behind-the-scenes talks have stalled
- Man arrested for posting lewd photos of Alexandria stepsister on Twitter
- Firecracker shuts down Alexandria City High School football game
- Adoptable Chihuahua Dory only weighs 3.5 pounds
- Mayor Wilson: Potomac Yard construction delay ‘could have nothing to do with Metro station’
- Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School
Have a safe weekend!
Aslin Beer Co. opens new scratch kitchen in Alexandria — “For the past two years, Chef Taylor Gates has been learning about pizza and dough — and now the taproom at Aslin Beer Co. in Alexandria’s West End is ready to serve it up. Aslin is opening a new scratch kitchen concept this week called Knead.” [Alexandria Living]
City Council approves additional eviction prevention resources — “City Council’s decision funds $457,000 for two service navigator and two housing relocator positions; storage assistance for household belongings; and additional legal services provided by the Legal Aid Justice Center to assist people at risk for eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [City of Alexandria]
Inova Alexandria Hospital brings peer recovery to the emergency room — “Patients visiting the E.R. for a substance-related crisis can speak with a specialist once they are medically stable. The idea is to help them take that first step toward recovery.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Plentiful sunshine. High 74F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 51F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New job: Employee Rotation Program with the Office of Historic Alexandria — “Work involves writing, editing and planning layout of brochures and flyers, newspaper articles, press releases, and/or planning and implementing publicity and fundraising campaigns. Work requires the exercise of creativity, independent judgment, and a familiarity with Alexandria’s African American history. The work is performed under general supervision of the Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum in consultation with the Director of OHA.” [Governmentjobs.com]
Via Claire Going/ACPS
After the end of the eviction moratorium, Alexandria’s City Council is looking to step up protection for locals facing eviction.
According to a docket item for tomorrow’s (Tuesday) City Council meeting, city staff are recommending that the city fund new services and positions aimed to support Alexandria households going through the eviction process.
The proposed supports are:
- Two service navigators and two housing relocator positions ($307,000)
- Storage assistance for household belongings ($50,000)
- Additional legal services to assist those at risk for eviction ($50,000)
The service navigators provide support through outreach, including door-to-door knocking, community events, and outreach at properties with higher rates of eviction, a memo by City Manager Mark Jinks said. The service navigators also help applicants through completion and submission of rental relief applications. Housing relocators, meanwhile, help displaced residents secure stable housing — a service Jinks said is not currently available except at emergency shelters.
The suggestions came out of the city’s Eviction Prevention Task Force, which started last year and is comprised members of various city departments and outside organizations, like Tenants and Workers United and Christ Church.
“The housing crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has sharply increased the risk of long-term harm to renter families and individuals, disruptions of the market affordable housing market and the potential for foreclosure and bankruptcy, especially among small property owners,” Jinks wrote in the memo. “Following eviction, a person’s likelihood of experiencing homelessness increases, mental and physical health are diminished and the probability of obtaining employment declines. Eviction is also linked with respiratory disease, which could increase the risk of complications if COVID-19 is contracted. Instability, like eviction, is particularly damaging to children, who suffer in ways that impact their educational development and well-being.”
Even before the moratorium expired, some local landlords were starting the eviction process and laying the groundwork to evict tenants. Unemployment skyrocketed to record highs last year, though unemployment figures have gradually improved over the last year. In late August, the Supreme Court invalidated a federal eviction moratorium that would have halted evictions in some places through Oct. 3. The memo noted that Legal Services of Northern Virginia have provided legal assistance to 1,031 individuals through courthouse outreach and the Office of Community Services and the Office of Housing have assisted 3,717 households to successfully apply for rental assistance.
“The immediacy of this halt in the eviction moratorium has created devastating impacts to some households in our community, with an increase of eviction filings,” Jinks wrote.
The memo noted that since the pandemic started, 2,135 residential “Unlawful Detainer Summons” — which initiates the eviction process — have been filed. Of those, 599 (28%) were found in favor of the landlord and 1,307 (61%) were dismissed or classified as non-suited. In total, 283 writs of eviction have been issued.
“These cases could have been stopped by the CDC moratorium anywhere along the process,” Jinks wrote. “With the moratorium lifted, approximately 134 households are believed to be at immediate risk of eviction.”
Jinks wrote that for local residents that have been struggling to pay rent through the pandemic, the worst could still be ahead.
“The overall trends in the data do not indicate that there is an uptick at this time in eviction filings, but rather that there were many households over the past year and a half that started the eviction process but were legally protected by the CDC moratorium,” Jinks said. “Now that the moratorium has ended, staff anticipates that the pipeline will begin to move again, and the City will experience an increase in residents who need assistance in applying for state rental assistance and to find new housing, and who will require other resources.”
The positions will be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act for the next 12 months — $357,000 for City staffing plus eviction storage costs plus Legal Aid Justice Center $60,000. The memo noted its likely that the program will need an additional $500,000 in the next tranche of ARPA funding in the FY 2023 budget.
Alexandria’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases has put it on the list of localities where the eviction moratorium has been extended.
In a press release, the city confirmed it was on the list of places where the moratorium took effect and pushed residents struggling to pay their rent to state and local resources.
“On August 3, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new order temporarily halting evictions in locations where there have been surges in COVID-19 and increases in cases of the Delta variant,” the city said. “The moratorium is in effect through October 3 and covers all renters living in communities, including the City of Alexandria, that meet these criteria.”
At the state level, the Virginia Rent Relief Program offers relief for renters and landlords. Renters can apply for help covering rent payments past due starting in April 2020. The program also also allows landlords to file for rent relief on behalf of residents.
“The City’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) Office of Community Services (OCS) also provides rental assistance to eligible households facing a housing crisis or homelessness,” the city said. “Residents can call the DCHS Customer Call Center at 703.746.5700 or text 703.346.5599 to learn about rental assistance, as well as other available emergency assistance.”
Rent has been a touchy subject in Alexandria over the last year, with some local residents protesting against paying rent when the pandemic forced many out of their jobs. The city offered some rent relief services but property owners have already started to lay the groundwork for eviction even while the moratorium was in effect.