Menlo 4

They call themselves the Menlo Four; four elderly, African-American tenants who lived in substandard housing conditions and took a stand against unjust evictions and gentrification.
The old dilapidated house where the tenants lived is located right across from the newly renovated, expensive USC student housing.
But unlike the student housing, the house that Captoria, Willie, Donald, and Cliff called home had no electricity, no water, no heat, and no gas.
The only thing their old Victorian home did have was an outbreak of mold and mildew, an infestation of roaches and rats, and such severe structural problems that the Department of Housing labeled the building “too unsafe to occupy”.
The deliberate disrepair of the building was a common tactic used by the property owners to push the tenants out. But because the Menlo 4 knew their rights, they refused to move.
The City Housing Department initially denied the tenant’s request for relocation assistance, claiming that the tenants were squatters even through every one of the Menlo 4 had rental receipts and lease agreements.
After a significant amount of public pressure, the City eventually reconsidered their decision and promised the tenants that they would receive their checks within 7-10 business days.
But nearly a month passed and the tenants and the checks had not arrived. The tenants soon learned that the landlord of the property was suing the City and contesting the Housing Department’s decision to grant the tenants relocation assistance.
After enduring another two months of horrible living conditions and intolerable government bureaucracy, the Menlo 4 finally received their relocation assistance in early February.
Captoria, Willie, Cliff, and Donald have remained active members of SAJE and are currently fighting to ensure the property where they lived continues to serve community residents and does not become yet another piece of overpriced student housing.

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