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Tenants holding a Press Conference was such a threat to Management that they call the cops and 5 GRPD cruisers show up

October 3, 2021

The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union has been working with tenants who reside at Grand View Place apartments who have numerous grievances against management. Tenants don’t feel safe at the Grand View Place apartments, the facility is unsanitary, with constant noise violations and there is constant illegal activity in the building.

When tenants contact the property manager, rarely are they taken seriously. In addition, some of tenants have been threatened with legal action or the threat of eviction, simply because they want to live in a safe and sanitary environment. 

One tenant, who is a US military veteran, has been taken to court numerous times by Woda Cooper Companies Inc, the company that owns Grand View Place. However, in each instance, the company ends up dropping the charges when the tenant’s lawyer demands a jury trial.

Another major issue that tenants have complained about is the failure of management to make timely repairs in the building and in individual apartments. In 2020, Woda Cooper Companies Inc, received $2,828,800 in PPP loans from the federal government because of COVID. Several months later that loan was forgiven. If Woda Cooper Companies Inc can benefit from nearly $3 Million of public money, they surely can make the necessary repairs in a timely fashion.

Last Wednesday, several tenants of the Grand View Place apartments hosted press conference to share some of their personal struggles with Woda Cooper Companies Inc., along with presenting a list of demands.

There were two of us who are with the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union who arrived at Grand View Place apartments and met tenants we had been meeting with outside, near the parking lot. The manager of the property had come out to see what we up to, which was nothing more than having a conversation. 

The property manager then went back inside, only to reappear 5 minutes later to greet an unmarked GRPD cruiser. The property manager and the GRPD then approached tenants and members of the tenant union and asked what we were up to. Someone responded by saying, “we were just having a conversation.” The Woda Cooper Companies Inc representative then told us that we – members of the tenant union – needed to leave. The GRPD officer, who happened to be Captain Collard and is part of the Police Command Officers Association, also told us to get off the Woda Cooper Companies Inc. property.

Those of us with the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union did move to the sidewalk area, which is exactly where we had planned to hold our press conference, right in from of the Grand View Place apartments sign. In the span of about 5 minutes there were an additional four GRPD cruisers that drove by, and one that parked across the street next to a commercial building to keep an eye on us.

At this point it became clear that the local news media would not be showing up, since it was nearly 30 minutes after the time included in the Media Release. The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union had sent a Media Release to roughly 70 different reporters and newsrooms in the Grand Rapids area. The fact that none of them showed up to the press conference is instructive. It is also instructive to note that all of the major news media outlets had run an ArtPrize story that same day, even though the monied spectacle had already been happening for a full two weeks. The injustice being done to tenants in Grand Rapids just wasn’t newsworthy.

We had also expected to have a few more tenants join us for the press conference, especially those the Tenant Union had been meeting with. However, we found out just minutes after the press conference, that Woda Cooper Companies Inc. had sent out a message to residents that there would be a mandatory inspection of everyone’s apartment. 

The Grand Rapids Area Tenant union had decided to livestream a message with one of the tenants and then offer up the demands they had created. Within minutes of terminating the livestream, several tenants were told that there would be no more inspections that day. One of those tenants then sent a message to the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union, which said:

They scheduled inspections out of the blue for the day of the press meeting here. The notice said they do inspections every month but they do not!!! I waited all day for my inspection. I started calling and texting asking when they would be here, right before we were supposed to meet you outside. They did not respond until after you stopped streaming live in front of the building! They purposely tried to keep tenants from the meeting! They waited all day only to tell me once the press stopped that they were no longer doing inspections! Convenient! They have used inspections as Intimidation and retribution in the past!

What happened last Wednesday should demonstrate to all of us the kind of abuse and exploitation that tenants face on a regular basis. The tenants are Grand View Place apartments live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions and when they do complain they are threatened with eviction. The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union works with these tenants to craft a set of demands and hold a press conference. No commercial media shows up, but 5 separate GRPD cruisers come to intimidate tenants after management had called them. Management also deceived tenants about an inspection that was clearly designed to prevent them from participating in the press conference. 

In one sense it demonstrated what lengths property management companies will go to prevent tenants from exposing their abusive and exploitative practices. In addition, what took place last week was also a demonstration of how threatened property management companies are of tenants when they organize with other tenants and make demands. 

If this report disturbs you, then please do what the tenants are asking of people, which is to call the management at Grand View Place apartments (616) 250-5830. Tell them to meet the the tenant demands. You can find the list of demands on the Facebook page for the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union.

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