Silvia Salazar didn’t expect tenant organizing to change her life. She just wanted to rid her decaying apartment complex of bedbugs, black mold and rats. The 36-year-old ended up empowering her neighbors to advocate for themselves and, ultimately, become proud owners of their own building.
For years, Salazar’s calls and letters to the management company of her 1930s-era Logan Circle building went unanswered. In October 2005, she decided to take action. She met with a handful of renters in the laundry room to discuss their home’s flaws. Over the next six years, the group formed a tenant association and waged a legal battle to purchase their seven-story, 84-unit building, now the Norwood Cooperative (1417 N St. NW).
“In a building that has had as many maintenance issues as us, where we speak many languages, the fact that we could organize and get around to doing it shows that it’s possible in any building in D.C,” Salazar said.