This story appears as part of the Daily Nexus’ 2007 April Fools’ issue.
After months of controversy surrounding Conquest Student Housing, the property management company has announced plans to open a new complex in Isla Vista for the low-income tenants it evicted last summer.
The complex, tentatively named Nylon Terrace, is modeled after various tent cities throughout the country. Conquest owner Alan Smolinsky said the complex will consist of about 50 tents, all of which have four nylon walls, a floor made of palm fronds, and no roof.
“We’re giving back to the community,” he said. “Contrary to popular belief, Conquest believes that each and every person in Isla Vista should at least have a barrier between their sleeping bodies and the great outdoors.”
Responding to comments about the tents’ structure, Smolinsky said the cost of 50 nylon ceilings would greatly increase the funding needed for the project, and Conquest would rather provide more families with housing than spend money on roofs.
In addition, Smolinsky said the lack of a roof will increase air circulation, which will improve the tenants’ health as well as decrease the amount of necessary cleaning.
“I’m pretty sure the tenants can’t afford much health care, so the fresh air will improve their overall health,” he said. “And when it rains, the water will clean the inside of the tents, lessening the amount of work for everyone.”
This past August, Conquest played a central role in the eviction of 22 units of tenants from the Cedarwood Apartments located at 6626 Picasso Rd. Soon after, the tenants and several I.V. residents began protesting the evictions, alleging that they were based on the low socio-economic status and ethnicity of the tenants, who are predominately Latino, as well as the fact that they were not students.
The case was brought to court later in the fall, and the tenants were finally pushed into leaving. In the meantime, the tenants received housing free of rent while they searched for new places to live, as well as letters of recommendation from Conquest.
“After everything we provided for those families, we still felt there was more we could do,” Smolinsky said. “We are building Nylon Terrace out of the kindness of our hearts, which have grown at least three sizes today.”
According to a Conquest press release, the tents will be erected in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park within the next few weeks.
“That’s another reason we want to use nylon: It’s quick and easy, and we won’t ever have to perform maintenance,” Smolinsky said. “That way, we still have time and money to clean the pools and install personal television screens on the elliptical machines in the Coronado and Breakpointe complexes.”
In its meeting last Thursday, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District voiced its wholehearted approval for Nylon Terrace, saying that the tents will provide low-income I.V. residents and transients alike with a feeling of community in the park.
“Conquest has proved all the protestors completely wrong, and made us feel like tools,” IVRPD member Ivana Blackout said. “They are providing this housing out of the goodness of their hearts – I mean, the evicted tenants from Cedarwood are receiving at least 15 square feet, and families of four get 20!”
Each tent will be pre-furnished – the homes will come with polyester sleeping bags, a gas lantern, and Windex to clean the nylon, Conquest employee Penny Cheapberg said. In addition, the company will provide the complex with a rustic Cherokee theme – one in every five tents will be given a dream catcher, and wind chimes will hang from trees throughout Anisq’ Oyo’ park.
“Ambience is just as important as shelter,” Cheapberg said. “If those of us in the upper echelon of society can afford to have decorations in our homes, why shouldn’t the less fortunate? I mean, with a few tacky differences, of course, to establish rank.”
Tent cities exist in various locations throughout the country including Seattle, Anchorage and New Orleans, and are usually erected for large numbers of homeless people or, in the case of UCSB, the perennially indignant. Blackout said Isla Vista is the perfect place for a complex such as Nylon Terrace, because there is already a large homeless population, and the tent city will help make them feel like permanent residents.
“Tent cities may be considered unsanitary and dangerous, but Conquest is doing the best it can,” Blackout said. “My only concern is that Alan Smolinsky’s heart bursts open from the intense generosity of his actions.”