Help Save Hi-Lo Press

Yesterday Joe Williams,the landlord for hi-lo (and all of the other businesses on the corner of Ponce de Leon and Charles Allen Dr), informed me that he has sold the block and that the new owners will have control over the rent and addresses from August 5 (as in two weeks from now) onward. It came to all of the tenants attention that the block was listed last November from patrons and friends, not from Joe himself. Since confronting him last winter and asking for him to take accountability and to open up dialogue with the renters concerning our futures here he has remained consistently opaque. While I’ve occupied this address for nearly 4 years the other renters have all been tenants for between 18 and 40 years. Since January of 2016 we’ve hosted many art shows, workshops, poetry readings, book clubs, screenings, and fundraisers. We’ve learned how to chock up our presses in order to protect them from the water that comes in with every heavy rain, how to wear enough layers to keep warm in a completely uninsulated building, how to laugh when there’s an event happening and there’s a small waterfall pouring through the back doorframe. We’ve forayed into diy electrical work, roof repair, carpentry, plumbing and landscaping with deep frustration and joy out of necessity and excitement. None of the tenants currently know how exactly we will be effected by this. The current destruction and transformation of Atlanta doesn’t give us much hope and, while we would hate to see this block torn down and replaced with another set of luxury apartments or a cocktail bar or a phone repair shop, it’s highly likely. Joe himself plans on going out of business between now and the beginning of September and is through his plan once again showing how totally unconcerned he is with the fate of the folks here. When asked why he didn’t want to carry on with running The Fainting Couch (since his comfort has consisted entirely of saying “maybe nothing will change besides your landlord”) he responded “I’m not going to pay rent”. Joe has also exhibited disturbing behavior in the facts that he has never bothered to learn the ethnicities of multiple tenants here, calling them “Chinese or something” (the owners of Midtown Alterations and Midtown Shoe Repair are both Korean), using broken English impersonations of them in conversation and by responding to my question about whether he had reached out to all of the renters with the news of the block selling with “well, I told everyone who speaks English”. In the very least we all anticipate our rents increasing significantly which is causing most of the residents to consider closing. I’ve felt supremely lucky to have made so many connections and friendships through being here for the last few years. We want to continue the types of exploration and experimentation that we’ve been able to know throughout these events and gatherings. We are unsure how to move forward from this news and will maintain transparency as we learn the details. Joe has not made an effort to concern himself with the lives of the tenants who have been renting from him for decades, nor has he attempted to advocate for the security/safety of any of us. We will be brainstorming how to continue in this uncertainty. We are starting this gofundme in order to reach anticipated costs of moving or increased rent.  Keep an ear to the ground for opportunities and keep us in your thoughts. Thank you for all of your love and support.
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    • 17 mos
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    • 27 mos
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Dianna Settles 
Atlanta, GA
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