Heartland organization pushes for safer living conditions for tenants

A first of it's kind organization in Cape Girardeau has a mission to help local renters.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) -A first of it’s kind organization in Cape Girardeau has a mission to help local renters. Members say they hope they can encourage leaders to create better and safer living conditions for tenants.

“I just had four walls and a roof is basically what I had,” Michele Jackson, volunteer said.

This is what Jackson and her children’s home looked like when she moved to Cape Girardeau 10 years ago. I had mold in corners, and broken appliances.

“Plumbing was horrible, I had like ants nobody would exterminate, didn’t have a working stove, didn’t have a working refrigerator,” Jackson said.

She said this is why she joined Cape Girardeau tenants, an organization demanding landlords and city officials offer safer living conditions to renters.

Something the City’s Building and Code Enforcement manager said is important.

“There have been homes with water hose running across the street because they didn’t have water, so we had to put a stop and get the landlords and make sure people are living in healthy environments,” Doug Weisbrod said.

Cape Girardeau tenants aim to take it a step further and unionize.

“We believe that we deserve investment, we deserve better housing, affordable housing that clean that’s safe, that’s truly affordable and sustainable.”

Aaron Lerma is part of the group and he said he’s hoping to can spark new rules to improve living conditions for renters.

“There were a lot of tenants that said they believed things could change. Which makes me feel pretty proud of this area that there are other tenants like myself that are willing to fight,” Lerma said.

Lerma and Jackson are still figuring out the next steps, but there is one ultimate goal.

“It doesn’t have to be fancy, but everybody deserves decent housing,” Jackson said.

Lerma said last year they talked to about 500 tenants. He’s hoping to reach another 500 tenants this summer.

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