Garner residents facing eviction wait in limbo

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Some residents of Garner's Forest Hills Apartments are supposed to move out by Sunday (WTVD)

Some Wake County residents are in limbo after getting notices Wednesday telling them they had to move out by this Sunday.

The letter went out to Section 8 tenants at Garner's Forest Hills Apartments, after Wake County leaders worked out an agreement with their new landlord to let them stay until June 15.

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The notices have even caught Wake County Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson off-guard. He's been in talks with the new property owner, Chapel Hill-based Eller Capital Partners, and told ABC11 he was blindsided the landlord would tell residents they were required to move by April 30.

Dimeena Hartman came home to see the notice hanging on her door Wednesday and doesn't know what she and her 4-year-old daughter will do next.

"What are we gonna do when we come home from church Sunday and see that our doors are padlocked?" she said. "It's a helpless situation."

She and dozens of other Section 8 tenants have been on the hunt for a new place to live ever since they were first told Eller Capital Partners would no longer accept their government housing subsidies.

Hartman, who pays $35 a month in rent right now, knew she couldn't afford the full rate of more than $700. She's been applying for affordable housing at apartments from Chapel Hill to Fayetteville with wait lists as long as three years, unsure whether she'll be accepted.

Wake County leaders have been working to help ease the pain of transition for residents like Hartman, but they too thought they had until mid-June to get them into other affordable housing.

READ MORE: Glimmer of good news for Garner residents facing eviction

"That's what we've heard also and we are going to continue to work with churches, with the non-profits and the housing authorities to provide relocation assistance." Said David Ellis, deputy county manager.

In an email to ABC11, a representative for Eller Capital Partners said the landlord agreed it would not forcibly remove residents before June 15, but it did not agree to extend any of their lease terms.

The best Ellis could surmise is that these residents would become holdover tenants, essentially allowed to stay in their units until June 15 without a lease. What that means for their qualifying for public assistance vouchers, is unclear.

Hartman said she understands the landlord wanting to renovate the property and lease it at the market-rate, she just wishes he could go about it differently.

"You're messing with the livelihood of our children," she said. "And this, for me, is more about my daughter than myself. Me bouncing from spot to spot is one thing but for me to be bouncing my daughter from pillar to post is not right."

Wake County commissioners, staff, Legal Aid and other advocates will meet with residents of Forest Hills Apartments Friday night to discuss their options.

Ellis said the county's affordable housing task force is tackling the issues of a shortage.

"We're working on it," he said. "We didn't get this way overnight so it's not going to change immediately."

In the meantime, any landlords looking to rent to Section 8 tenants, should call the county at (919) 856-5689.

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