For more than a month now, Candice King has been fighting to keep her home. Her community has held their ground in the face of property management and police, but now R&R Properties of Eugene has begun targeting King’s neighbors in the fight to kick her and her family out. In response, King and some of her neighbors are forming a co-op.
On July 12 her neighbors received a notice stating that King and her family were now deemed as their guests and that they had until August 1 to remove the Kings from the property or else they too, could face eviction.
“It’s a cheap tactic,” King says. “Those kinds of notices make people’s hearts skip a beat.”
In addition to owning King’s house, landlord Sharon Prager owns the other two houses on the property, all of which are managed by R&R Properties. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, King and her neighbors are just a few of the 51 percent of people in Eugene who live in a rental. King and her community want to see that number decrease with the hopes that this campaign will amplify the belief that homes should be owned by the people that live in them.
For the past two months Prager and R&R Properties have tried to remove King and her family from the property, including calling in Lane County sheriffs to issue an eviction with the Eugene Police Department as back up. King and her community refuse to leave.
King says that R&R also tried to influence her neighbors by offering them their full security deposit and first month’s rent back as a reward for moving out. The notice was given to two of King’s neighbors. One of the neighbors decided to move out in the face of eviction while the other stayed to participate in a community-wide rent strike.
Neighbors participating in the strike, and who wish to be anonymous out of fear of retaliation, say in a press release, “We were dragged into this just because we live in the same space, not because we actually violated our lease or did anything wrong. R&R is willing to make us homeless to try and make this problem go away, but we refuse to let them bully us out of our community.”
A few neighboring tenants and community members went to R&R’s office on Friday, August 4, to officially announce the rent strike. They gave a speech detailing the rent strike and dropped off flyers with information about why they’re striking. Erin Grady, an activist and friend of King’s, attended the demonstration and said, “It feels like a win.”
Property managers were absent from R&R’s offices that day and did not respond to Eugene Weekly’s request for comment.
While King and her community continue to stand their ground against property management and the police they’re also celebrating their wins. On Monday, July 31, friends and family had a barbecue to celebrate one month of resisting eviction. Music blasted from the speakers; kids played in the kiddie pool; people gathered around a rotating table of snacks and cake. “You have to find joy in the struggle,” Grady said. But the mood of the party took a turn after property manager Charlie Hansen visited the property to collect King’s neighbors’ keys.
After picking up the keys, Hansen and a group of yard maintenance workers attempted to clean up the property. King says that Hansen was met with a resounding “No,” from community members at the party. After a brief argument between King’s friends and Hansen, the property manager threatened to call the police and left shortly after. The police didn’t come Monday night, but King says she is tired of the “scare tactics.”
“They think that close friendships can be severed by wealth,” King says. “They’re wrong.”
As far as the future of King’s house, she is hopeful that the community can hold their ground until Prager agrees to sell the property. King and her community are currently working with a lawyer to build a co-op community land trust so they can negotiate with Prager to buy the property. They say they are still in the beginning stages of putting the community land trust together and hope that this will inspire other neighborhoods to take control of their living situations.
In the press release King says, “We have a vision for these homes, that they are owned by the people who live in them, and held in a community land trust that will care for the structures and the people in them for many decades to come. We will pursue this vision relentlessly. This is what our neighborhood needs and what everyone wants.”