By Joan Hoch
Numerous tenants at the Mueller Flats apartment complex in Austin were forced to leave their homes last Friday, with tenants scrambling to find housing and move their belongings late into the night.
On April 30, at least eighteen tenants received emails or typed notices to vacate within a week, only weeks after tenants organized a protest against storm damage and unlivable conditions across the complex. One tenant told Tribune, “We should not be forced out. How would these rich corporate people like to be forced out of their homes?”
Like many in Austin, residents were still dealing with the aftermath of the winter storm that hit Texas in February and the capitalist crisis that accompanied it. Months later, apartments at Mueller Flats were still flooded or impacted by water damage and black mold.
“We put in a lot of code complaints and that basically is translated into fines that Mueller Flats is either paying on or is going to be paying on,” said a tenant. “That’s why before they hemorrhage they are sending out these notices to get people out of their units so there is no more code complaints and they don’t have to pay more fines.”
The tenants’ association worked with Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (BASTA), a nongovernmental organization, to make demands of Firmus, the management company that operates Mueller Flats. These demands included rent refunds for the month of May, rehousing support, and the removal of the current manager. None of these demands were met, and BASTA was not present as tenants moved out on Thursday and Friday.
“What would have made management concede to the demands that the tenants association and tenants agreed upon,” said one tenant, “is force, an uprising of the people storming the front office.”
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