The historic Duranguito tenement at 332 Leon Street is one of the many residential complexes built in the wake of the Mexican Revolution to house El Pasoans working in local industries and small businesses.

It lies within the “Master Planning Area” of the City’s arena project. Many of our media outlets have falsely reported that Duranguito is all but uninhabited when in fact there are scores of residents still living in the neighborhood—not just Romelia Mendoza and Toñita Morales.

A neighbor from across the street visited the residents today and informed me that the brick complex consists of 12 apartment units: six facing the street, and six behind.

According to him, four of the six units facing the street are currently occupied. These are rented for between $470 and $500 per month, including water but not including gas or electricity.

All four of the tenants of these units just received the attached notice announcing an increase in rent to $800/month starting January 1, 2023–between 38% and 41%!

The tenement has been owned by Yellow Balloon LP since 2009 and the property manager is Guillermo Garcia. Central Appraisal District records show that between 2021 and 2022 the assessed value of the tenement increased from $262,335 to $338,250, a jump of 29%.

Bob Moore of El Paso Matters recently published a report titled “Analysis: Renters face big hit from property tax increases.”

A major reason for the increase in El Paso rents is the fact that the City, one of five local taxing entities, has repeatedly raised its property tax because of its ongoing failure to achieve a no-new-revenue rate. This puts pressure on commercial property owners to pass along their tax increase to their tenants.

Reps. Isabel Salcido and Claudia Lizette Rodriguez, who are now running for reelection, have both voted for property tax increases.

But did the owner of 332 Leon Street need to increase rents by up to 41%?

His business is private and no one can interfere with his right to set rental rates, but I am sorry for his tenants, who face a devastating rent hike, on top of increasing utility rates and sharply rising prices for food and gasoline.

332 Leon Street is one of the last occupied tenements in Duranguito, since three other tenements were emptied of their residents between 2016 and 2020, sapping the barrio of its people and cultural vitality.