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Saturday was the 15th day without heat here at Riverside Apartments, located behind McDonalds at Broadway and Russell. Buildings 1, 2 and 7 have been without heat or a working boiler since late November — just the time the property was sold by the owner to a new owner, who inherited the disaster.

Thankfully, Summit Property Management was hired almost immediately so professionals are sorting out our needs at last. We got a note saying the boilers for buildings 1 and 2 have been delayed, so maybe we'll have heat again.

Believe me, when I discovered the heat was gone I called the city, county, Housing Authority, neighborhood council and everyone I could think of to get help. There were below 0 temps, remember that? I also coordinated with other activist tenants and we did it, they came to help us get heat again.

We live in the shadow of Equinox and Solstice, the high rises that now block our view of Mount Sentinel and the sun. They were built with high expectations but only ignore our plight at Riverside. I've had to be content with the "slums" next door, with our spectacular view of the Clark Fork in our backyards. But I believe that the dark night is over and a new owner with a conscience who is from around here intends to correct the abuses of tenants' rights and earn our respect.

When enough tenants speak up for our rights and work to improve relationships between tenants and organize if necessary, we will overcome adversity and slumlords won't have the chance to exploit us anymore.

Laura "Kat" Hawkins,

Missoula

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