Open Letter to CTL Management, Inc. from A Renter Against Harassment of the Unhoused

I’m a renter in an apartment complex in southeast Portland owned by the Randall Group, who, working with CTL Management, Inc., has raised the rent here by 250% since we moved in 16 years ago.  Randall and CTL’s general policy towards renters, as with all the other big property management companies around the country that I’ve heard of in recent years, is to profit off of them as much as possible, while spending as little as necessary to maintain their moldy buildings.

I was appalled to learn of another policy CTL Management evidently has, which I was heretofore unaware of, since it was never enforced by any of the previous apartment managers here, which is to harass the unhoused people who visit our dumpster to look for things they might find useful or of value, and who pick cans out of the recycling so they can make a little money.

This morning our new apartment manager took it upon himself to first yell from a distance at a man looking in the dumpster, and then to approach the man in an intimidating way, scolding him for going through the garbage and inviting him not to return, from the bits of what I heard him say to the man.  The unhoused man replied by wishing that the manager has a nice day.

I informed the manager immediately afterwards as politely as I could (which wasn’t very polite, admittedly), that if he harassed unhoused people who come to look through the dumpster again like that, I would not watch silently, but would verbally intervene and make it clear that the manager does not represent his neighbors in the building in believing it’s OK to harass desperately poor people living on the streets who are trying to survive — certainly not this neighbor.

He then informed me in an equally barbed manner that he had just been following orders given to him by his superiors at CTL Management.  That is, he made it clear that this was not just him being a bully, but it was official policy that he act like one.

This morning’s incident of the harassment of an unhoused visitor to our dumpster is the first and last such incident that I will silently witness.  Next time I’ll say something.  Probably a lot of things.  And anyone reading this who is in a similar situation wherever you live, I hope you will, too.  This kind of thuggish behavior on the part of an apartment manager is both immoral and unsafe, and can’t be tolerated by anyone concerned with either morality or safety.

I am personally an atheist, but I have a lot of friends who are very religious Christians, who are part of Christian groups that run hospitality houses for the unhoused, feed people, and leave jugs of water in the desert.  Their modus operandi is laid out in Matthew 25:35, which is front and center on all of their literature.  It says:

I was hungry, you gave me food
I was thirsty, you gave me drink
I was naked, you gave me clothes
I was a stranger, you let me in

Maybe I wouldn’t think of this Biblical verse, except that my apartment manager says he’s a Christian, by which he apparently means he doesn’t believe in cussing.  Maybe there’s somewhere in the Bible where it says not to cuss, I don’t know.  But I do know where it says to love your neighbor as yourself, and thousands of our neighbors in this broken city are living on the sidewalks and searching through the dumpsters to survive.

I know how hard this reality can be for the rest of us who are still managing to be able to afford the ever-increasing cost of housing ourselves in this country, and aren’t yet living in vehicles, or worse.  But we must stand up for everyone’s humanity, and not denigrate people who live in such circumstances, or we stand to lose our own humanity.

Which seems pretty obvious to me.  But then, a lot of other things do, too.  Like the inhumanity of raising the rent 250% just because it’s a corporation and that’s what the shareholders want — profit.  That’s also immoral and unsafe.  That kind of policy — and the fact that the corporate-captured state authorities allow it to continue to be like this, without instituting meaningful rent control — is the main reason why there are so many unhoused people on the streets here in the first place, in fact.

(That’s what a federal government agency called the General Accounting Office says, not me, by the way, oddly enough — that there’s a direct correlation between the percentage increase in the cost of housing and the percentage increase of people living on the streets.  Sometimes government agencies can do that sort of thing, point out the obvious truth of a situation.  And then watch as the government agencies that could actually do something about it demonstrate their corporate-captured nature and fail to do anything — except for possibly to get rid of whoever it was at the GAO who did that study.)