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Tenants protesting against Orchard Place Apartments are met with private security, the GRPD and threats from the company to terminate their lease agreement

March 15, 2023

Yesterday, tenants living at Orchard Place Apartments, along with supporters and members of the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union, held a protest outside of the office of the Property Manager.

The protest was based on the living conditions of the tenants at Orchard Place Apartments. In October, there was a fire in an adjoining apartment (which is still boarded up), which has caused significant health issues, because of the smoke ash from the fire, which was never cleaned up. Then in December, there was flooding in that same adjoining apartment, which affected their apartment and created black mold that has also not been dealt with by the property management company. In addition, there have been several needed repairs in their apartment, which were ignored for the past 6 months. These tenants had contacted the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union for support, which provided some logistical support for the protest.

The tenants told us that earlier in the day they had received a call from the Property Manager telling them that if there was a protest that it would not be allowed, since Orchard Place Apartments was private property. Undeterred by the threats, people gather at 2pm, to protest outside of the Property Manager’s office, which is in the middle of the apartment complex.

As people made their way to the Property Manager’s office, they were stopped by someone who was working for a private security company, who again told the tenants that this was private property and that they would call the cops if people chose to protest there. We found out that Orchard Place Apartments had hired two private security guards, both of which had a car, to deal with protestors yesterday. It’s interesting that the company spent money to hire private security people, instead of investing in the repairs and meeting the demands of tenants who had brought numerous complaints to them.

Once people arrived in front of the Property Manager’s office, other tenants began to arrive, partly out of curiosity or because the tenants who organized the protest had dropped off flyers to other residents in the apartments complex. Someone from the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union was live-streaming the protest (which you can watch at this link Then tenants who organized the protest shared their story in the video, then as other tenants arrived, they also began to talk about their experience of living at Orchard Place Apartments. The stories were powerful and moving. What became clear to everyone, was that as other tenants arrived they too shared their stories and had very similar experiences with the company that took their money every month, but did little to make repairs or provide other basic resources that are necessary for living in a safe and healthy environment. 

After about 30m minutes of protesting and sharing stories, two GRPD cruisers arrived. However, the GRPD officers kept their distance for at least 10 minutes before coming over the speak with the tenants that were protesting. Once the cops did approach people, the Property Manager came out of the office to tell people that they needed to leave, since it was private property. The Property Manager promptly went back into their office and refused to listen to tenant complaints and speak with them about the issues they were raising in the protest. 

At one point that GRPD officers were saying that they thought it would be more advantageous for those protesting to go out to Fuller or Knapp and protest, since they would be more visible to the public. One of the members of the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union responded by saying that, “it was actually more advantageous to protest in front of the office, since they wanted to be seen by other tenants and to make it easier for other tenants to participate.” 

People eventually decided to move the protest to Fuller, since no one was prepared to get arrested that day. The protest ended 10m minutes later, since it had achieved what tenants had hoped for. 

People began to disperse over the next 10 minutes and by the time that I got home, the tenants who had organized the protest sent a video message showing the Property Manager coming to their apartment to deliver a document. The document they delivered was a notice to quit to recover possession of their property, which is to say they were not going to renew the lease with the tenants who organized the protest. What is interesting is that just last week, the Property Manager said that they would not retaliate against the tenants, which of course was exactly what they did.

There has been a great deal of discussion in Grand Rapids about the housing crisis and the lack of affordable housing. However, what these tenants have been experiencing is the realty that thousands of tenants are facing in Grand Rapids on a daily basis. The real crisis is the ongoing harm that landlords and Property Management Companies are afflicting on tenants on a daily basis and anytime tenants speak up for themselves they are met with threats of eviction or termination of their lease. Until people who care about housing issues in Grand Rapids come to terms with the realities that tenants are facing, there will be no housing justice in this city. 

To be part of the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union, you can leave a message on their Facebook page or send an Email to 

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