By Peter Cherry
Last Saturday, Regent Square Rentals (RSR) tenants with supporters and activists from the community led an action at the leasing office demanding manager and company heiress Kelsey Patterson be fired along with employee Bryan Wise for their harassment of tenants, and that the company meet with tenants to discuss their demands.
Peter Patterson, owner of RSR through his company CP Development, acquires properties with the aim of making profit rather providing suitable housing, and has worked closely with local bureaucrats and politicians to buy much of the rental housing stock in the Regent Square neighborhood as well as in Wilkinsburg. His daughter Kelsey Patterson and her friend and coworker Bryan Wise have benefited greatly from Peter’s investments, and Kelsey has followed in her father’s steps in harassing tenants and denying their demands for a home that is livable.
Back on April 20, current and former RSR tenants formed a tenant council and sent a letter to CP Development telling them that many of them lost wages due to the economic and health crisis and that they couldn’t afford rent because of this hardship. Tenants demanded that negotiations be opened to ease or forgive rent payments and to waive late fees. The company rejected these demands and in retaliation has started an aggressive campaign of harassing the tenants.
In May, surveillance pictures of 3 tenant activists were found taped to the door of the building with a notice that if any tenant knew about these people, they should call the company or the police because they were “wanted for questioning.” While there was no crime or incident involving these activists, plainclothes police reportedly started tailing them night and day, stalking them on a consistent basis. One police officer even tailed an activist into the woods.
Patterson has likewise referred to Black people as “crackheads” in describing the residents of the area who are being priced out, and has forced tenants to keep election campaign signs for pro-gentrification candidates because they “will help clean the neighborhood up.”
The tenants responded with a rally last Saturday at the leasing office, with Kelsey locked inside.
Attendees reiterated the call for an end to rent collections during the economic crisis and for Kelsey to meet with the tenants to discuss the demands. The crowd chanted, “No Rent Without Work or Wages!” while protesters pounded on the windows, demanding that she come outside to face her tenants. Posters with tenant demands were hung on the windows before the rally ended.