In August 2017 MAHT received a call from a tenant at Eperanza Trust, a 3 building 40-unit property in Roxbury owned by Lorenzo-Pitts, Jr. looking for information about how to legally withhold rent do to less than satisfactory repair work. This turned out to be the tip of an iceberg!
MAHT organized an emergency tenant meeting and quickly discovered that the owner was attempting to illegally terminate the Section 8 contract threatening tenants with displacement. Another 40 families at Fort Hill Gardens, also owned by Pitts, were similarly at risk. Both buildings are located in the rapidly gentrifying Fort Hill neighborhood of Roxbury.
Through working with legal services and inviting a HUD representative to meetings, tenants got HUD to require the owners to honor the existing section 8 contract and select a new, qualified management agent. Pitts selected Cruz Management in December to conduct recertifications, but not repairs. When tenants learned of this, MAHT notified HUD, which forced Pitts to allow Cruz to manage, as well.
As soon as Cruz came on board, they got to work on recertifying all 80 units, which HUD required before it would release repair funds. In May 2018, HUD finally released Section 8 funds to allow for much needed repairs. During a meeting, Cruz credited the tenants for the successful and to a long battle with the owners to win new management and restore funds.
Because of continued issues with the Pitts family, the properties were sold to Vitus in 2019 and they brought on Trinity Management. Tenants got to meet with Scott Logan, chief development officer and representatives from Trinity to discuss the new partnership and planned repairs. Tenants continue to meet to keep the owner and management accountable.
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