Durham apartment's financial woes forcing out residents
Posted October 9, 2012 6:10 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2012 7:00 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — Residents of a Durham apartment complex are being evicted after the apartment's management and owners say they can no longer afford to run the community.
Bernadette Toomer, who moved into Lincoln Apartments less than four months ago, received a letter on Sept. 28 from the apartment's management company, Southern Real Estate Management & Consultants Inc. notifying her and other residents of the 78-unit complex that because of "unfavorable financial conditions," the apartments will close at the end of October.
"I was like, 'What am I going to do?'" Toomer said Tuesday.
For Toomer, who is on disability, Lincoln Apartments wasn't easy to find.
"When I first started out to try and find housing, it was really hard for me, because of my income," she said. "It was the only place that was able to work with me at the time."
Residents went before the Durham County Board of Commissioners Monday night asking for help.
But county leaders, as well as city administrators, say they can't force the apartment complex to remain open or extend the eviction.
Southern Real Estate Management did not respond to requests for an interview Tuesday, but Durham's deputy city manager, Keith Chadwell, says the company is operating with "large financial deficits" and has had both infrastructure expenses and problems with tenants paying rent.
"The fundamental challenge is that this tenant population is very low income and without full-time employment," Chadwell said. "Many are behind on their rents, which impacts the ability of the complex management to provide proper maintenance."
Chadwell says the city has been in "heartfelt" discussions with the apartment complex's owners about ways to delay eviction, but it's too early to know what the possible outcomes of those talks might be.
"They've been very, very cooperative to see if there is an opportunity, in spite of their challenged business circumstances, to create a better outcome," Chadwell said.
In the meantime, Durham's Department of Social Services has been trying to relocate residents.
Toomer says she has no idea yet where she'll go.
"I really haven't thought that far ahead right now, because I don't want to get to the end yet," she said. "I just want to take all my time and my energy, right now, and just fight."