Earlier this week, Flores and his neighbors led a protest in front of their building against recent tax hikes and substandard living conditions.
He spoke up about the unfairness of having preferential rent, which is lower than the legal rent, but allows for the landlord to increase the rent up to market rate when tenants renew their lease.
“The landlady could raise our rent by a lot, more than we can pay,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair that she’s allowed to make us start paying so much money all of a sudden.”
The young activist noticed that it wasn’t just his family; other neighbors’ rents shot up too.
“We thought, ‘this is not normal,’” he said. “Something must be done.”
As complaints began piling up, the residents formed a tenants association at their building, calling it “Los Sures Luchamos.”
“From there, we started fighting for our rights,” Flores said. “We want to fight for what’s right.”
In addition to the rent increases, Flores said their apartments often don’t have heat or hot water. That affects his younger brother, who “always gets sick” when that happens.
“Sometimes he has to miss school, and when he goes back he doesn’t understand the material,” Flores said. “It’s rough.”
That’s why Flores and his family got involved. Although he’s just in middle school, Flores has already learned to fight for his community whenever he can.
“Keep fighting for the people that need it,” he said. “Because people can’t pay off all this rent.”