Help sought for residents being forced from Garner apartment complex
Posted 12:16 p.m. Friday
Updated 5:06 p.m. Friday
Garner, N.C. — Wake County and Garner officials on Friday called on area landlords to help find housing for dozens of families being forced from an apartment complex in Garner because of a change in ownership.
The new owner of Forest Hills Apartments, on 7th Avenue, plans to renovate the property and won't accept any form of housing assistance payments when the complex reopens. Individuals and families in all 136 apartments must move out by June 15.
Wake County leaders likened the situation to a natural disaster, noting that people are being forced from their homes just as if there had been a flood or a tornado. They asked landlords, churches and anyone else who is able to provide housing to step up and meet the need.
"These folks have done nothing wrong. They are good, rent-paying citizens, but because of the large number of citizens that are looking for affordable housing at one time, this has become extremely difficult," said Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners.
"There is a shortage of affordable housing in Wake County," Hutchinson said. "We need more landlords to step up and accept tenants with rental assistance vouchers so that these families can be sure to have a roof over their heads on June 16."
"Garner has a strong sense of community," Mayor Ronnie Williams said. "Forest Hills residents also need help locating packing materials, packing their belongings and securing moving trucks. I encourage our residents and community organizations to step forward and offer assistance where they can."
Officials have been able to find new places to live for 69 families. Many of the displaced residents say the effort is incredibly difficult because of the lack of affordable housing.
Yolanda Smith said she's gone to so many places and is either told to come back later or put her name on a waiting list – some of which are six months long.
"Mentally, it has been hard, stressful, not knowing where your child is going to go to school, not knowing if you are even going to have a residence for them to apply for a school," Smith said. "You had a neighborhood full of happy-go-lucky people. Now, everyone's walking around complaining. It's a crisis."
Selena Richardson said the situation has been especially stressful for her daughter, who has multiple sclerosis.
"When she gets nervous or upset, she has to go back to the hospital," Richardson said. "So, I'm trying to stay strong for her, but it is very, very stressful looking for something or (hearing), 'We don't have something available for you right now.'"
Anyone who has or knows of available housing for the Forest Hills residents is asked to call the Wake County Housing Division at 919-856-5689.