Photo Christina Kim
Local leaders and tenant rights advocates gathered in National City on Tuesday to demand that the Konrad Prebis Foundation stop selling its nearly 6,000 apartments to private equity firm Blackstone.
Anne Marin McKellob has been calling Golden Tree Apartments on Ave A her home for the past three years. It is one of 66 buildings that the foundation is selling to Blackstone for more than $ 1 billion. McKellob worries about what will happen when Blackstone comes to power.
“I’m really afraid we’ll have to move,” McKellob said. “They are not in our favor, they are in favor of themselves and the growth of their money.”
The Blackstone company, based in New York, was purchase of housing for low-income and middle-income complexes throughout the country. The deal with the Konrad Prebis Foundation was first announced in May. The foundation will use the proceeds from the sale to fund its charitable activities in San Diego, including grants for KPBS.
Housing advocates have opposed the deal from the start, saying it would result in the loss of essential affordable housing in the region. Blackstone has stated on several occasions that they plan to keep the devices available and make the necessary updates.
“We expect a resident of 80% or less [San Diego County’s median income] will continue to find most units affordable, ”wrote Kathleen McCarthy, global co-director of Blackstone Real Estate, in an email. “We are planning to make significant capital investments – more than $ 100 million – to meet the unanswered requests of residents.”
McCarthy also wrote that the renovation, which will entail increased safety, improved conditions and other services, will create more than 500 jobs.
For a family of four in San Diego County, 80% of the County’s median income is $ 97,000. McKellob said McKellob is supporting two children with an annual income of $ 29,000 after taxes.
She said her family pays $ 1,400 a month for a one-bedroom apartment she describes as being infested with cockroaches. She doubts that she will be able to benefit from the promised repairs by Blackstone and instead will be given money to move.
“Maybe they’re trying to give up something because you know what they’re doing to make the apartment more luxurious,” McKellob said. “And then maybe the amount they give is not enough even for where we want to go.”
McKellob wants to stay closer to National City and worries that if she is pushed out, it will take her and her husband a long and costly journey to work.
National City Vice Mayor Jose Rodriguez also says he’s not sure Blackstone will keep its promises.
“They are not legally associated with any of this,” Rodriguez said. “There is no law that says this has to happen so a company can go out and say, ‘Oh, we’re going to do this,’ but we’ve had a lot of companies in the past that said they were going to do X, Y, and Z and in in the end, I don’t do any of this. ”
Rodriguez admits there is no legal way to stop the sale, but he believes the publicity is important because it shows Blackstone that there is a strong culture of protecting tenant rights growing in the San Diego region.
“This new prospect knows what he’s dealing with, and he’s dealing with tenants who are organized, with elected officials who want to make sure we represent everyone’s interests,” Rodriguez said. “So they know there will be a struggle after the sale.”
Blackstone expects the deal to be finalized later this year.
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