When we first met George and agreed to help him fight bogus cleaning fees and get his wrongly held deposit back, we expected it to be a fairly quick and simple process. After all, it was a small amount of money, the landlord was the Low Income Housing Institute, and there was no evidence that George had left his apartment in bad condition. Little did we know that a supposedly charitable organization would turn out to be one of the most determined thieves we have yet encountered.
After fighting them for a few months, we succeeded in making them drop their threat to take George to collections for $40.50 in false charges. But despite a year of massive public embarrassment and proof that their main evidence was bogus, they have remained utterly steadfast in their determination to pocket George’s $99.
Week after week, we pressured LIHI and exposed their outrageous behavior. We picketed their offices. We put up posters all over town about their misdeeds, eventually including a photo of the executive director’s face. We surrounded their opening ceremony for a new building, embarrassing them in front of city officials and local dignitaries. We picketed in front of the executive director’s home. We visited the workplaces of multiple members of the board of directors.
Throughout this year-long campaign, LIHI distinguished itself in many despicable ways. Here are some highlights:
- LIHI’s first reaction to our demand was to threaten to sue George, who was then homeless.
- When LIHI asked for a meeting to resolve the dispute, they showed up at the meeting with an armed escort.
- LIHI argued that returning George’s deposit would be unfair to all the other tenants whose deposits they had kept.
- LIHI executive director Sharon Lee sent her boyfriend to try to provoke violence on a peaceful picket line.
- LIHI provided the press with photos of a filthy toilet to justify keeping George’s $99. When we proved that the photos were not even from George’s apartment, they still insisted on keeping his money.
Congratulations, LIHI! Fighting you for a year over $99 has been a joy.