***For Immediate Release***
Contact: Paloma Martinez, 832.493.4839
Concerned Houstonians Confront Corporate Real Estate Giants
Activists hold protest at the site where peaceful protestors were trampled with horses last week
Houston, TX—Activists from around Houston marched to Chase Tower on Wednesday to call on the building’s property manager, Hines, and other influential building owners in Houston to pay their fair share in taxes, create good jobs for our city, and ensure that the rights of janitors who clean their buildings are protected.
Houston janitors—some of whom are paid just $9,000 a year, less than half the poverty level—marched to the building and held a rally outside, while members of community organizations, including Texas Organizing Project, went inside the building to present Hines with bills for tax money they owe the Houston community. In 2011, Houston based Hines Interests, one of Houston’s largest property owners, filed successful property tax protests on all thirteen of its Houston office properties. The resulting appraisal reductions cost Houston area residents $6,690,416 in tax revenue—money that should have gone to Harris County schools and hospitals.
Today’s rally comes one day after JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified in front of the House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee regarding his company’s recent massive banking loss. Adriana Vasquez, a janitor who cleans the JP Morgan Chase tower in Houston, attended the committee hearing and asked Dimon a question: How could a company that made more $19 billion in profits last year not ensure that the janitors cleaning their buildings are paid a livable wage? She didn’t get an answer to her question, though Dimon said she could call his office.
“We’re not giving up,” says Vasquez. “This is the question we should be asking of CEOs, big banks, and building owners all across our city. How can they allow the people who keep their buildings and businesses running to live in poverty while they live like kings?”
Hines owned and/or managed properties include some of Houston’s most prominent downtown office properties, including JPMorgan Chase Tower where last week, Houston police horses trampled the protestors as they crossed the street to rally in front of Chase Tower.