Arizona Tenants Union was formed by Charles Gosmon and myself as a response to the lack of any real tenants rights organization in Arizona. Both of us come from out east: Charles from Massachusetts, I from New York by way of Chicago. There are real tenants movements there, and tenants rights is a real thing. Charles and I have both found it astonishing not so much that there’s no culture of tenant organizing here – this is Arizona, after all – but that with all the problems tenants have with slumlords, there is no tenant consciousness at all. Tenants not only don’t know that they have rights, but that such a thing as tenants rights might actually exist. Changing this dynamic is what we are trying to do at Arizona Tenants Union.
But we are stymied in our efforts because we are having a hard time reaching our target population: tenants in trouble. This is because there is another entity that purports to be a tenants rights organization but is in realty a nonprofit front for a for-profit company whose sole mission is to break tenants out of their leases for a high fee. This would be all right, except that the owner of that company, Ken Volk, is using underhanded and illegal tactics against us to put us out of business. These tactics include taking down our Facebook page, creating a “mirror” website with a similar name, logo and URL to deceive and draw away our potential members, re-posting all my blogs to his website as his own, and now instituting a fraudulent campaign to keep us off Google (for those familiar with “pay per click,” he’s having his staff members repeatedly click on our ad to use up all our clicks so that our Google listing comes down). The result is that his organization is the only one that comes up on the front page of Google.
The bad thing about this is that all of the tenants who call him each day and don’t want to break their leases are given nowhere to turn. These people need help, and we are the ones who can help them. We’re the only ones. But Ken Volk intentionally turns them away without referring them to us because he is afraid that as part of our services to our members we will break tenants out of their leases and deprive him of business. The result is that his business actually works against the creation of a real tenants movement here or a culture of tenant organizing.
These matters with Ken Volk are in litigation, and there is also a criminal investigation taking place. But in the meantime, we need your help in getting the message out that we exist. We need donations to hire SEO experts to shore up our website, and to send out mass mailings to slum buildings. Donations are tax-deductable. We need volunteers to knock on doors. We need everyone who likes us on Facebook to join ATU as a member (membership dues are $60.00/year which can be paid in monthly $5.00 installments). We need to have our Facebook page “liked” and spread. This is all happening but we need to make it happen more.
Please help us help tenants.