Forced out: Low-income Raleigh residents feeling the crunch of real estate boom

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Saturday, June 5, 2021
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The units in southeast Raleigh, just off MLK Blvd., were recently sold. The low-income tenants who live there were told last month they have to be out by the end of June.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Twenty-seven days.

That's how long tenants at a Raleigh apartment complex have to find a new place to live.

The units in southeast Raleigh, just off MLK Blvd., were recently sold. The low-income tenants who live there were told last month they have to be out by the end of June. The region's affordable housing crisis and real estate boom is making matters worse.

Unsure tonight how much longer they'll have a roof over their heads, the tenants at 1107 Garner Road signed a petition -- to reverse the move to get them out.

"What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna go?" said Josie Banks. "We don't have any money like that. To throw us out -- that's not fair!"

"You have seniors here," said Gloria Colbert. "Some of them don't have automobiles. How are they gonna get to find any place? We want extended time."

The apartment complex's new owners, Trademark Residential, sent letters to residents in mid-May, the tenants say, alerting them their leases would not be renewed.

Renovations were coming and higher rents too. Rent that many of these low-income residents cannot afford.

ABC 11 did not get an answer to its calls to property management at Trademark Residential Thursday evening. But the crisis on Garner Road is one more symptom of the larger affordable housing crisis in Raleigh. It's only made worse by the current housing boom: Rent in the Raleigh metro is up 6% since last April. Home prices are up 12%.

RELATED: Raleigh housing inventory down 55% and homes selling way past asking price: Zillow

"Why are the people from out-of-state trying to push the locals out? It's not just here, it's everywhere," said tenant Tequila Peebles. "I meet people at my job from Illinois and New York and it's raising up our rent. So y'all want to push the locals out just to accommodate these out-of-towners."

"Look at the wait time to get an apartment. It's four to eight months. We get a month," said Mitchell Stewart.

Community advocate Diana Powell is taking the tenants' plight to city and county leaders.

"No one wants to be homeless. People are suffering," said Powell, executive director of NC Justice Served.

Southeast Raleigh City Councilor Corey Branch spoke to ABC11 by phone about the crisis.

"It's the pressure (the city) is facing. People are selling, looking for profit margins and then the new owners come in and say. 'Hey we want to fix this but people have to move,'" Branch said. "But there's nowhere for them to go. We have to find some compassion and some balance."

"We may not be able to solve everybody's problem but when we got our elders affected and we got our children being affected -- it's time to sound the alarm," Powell, a long-time advocate for marginalized residents in gentrifying sections of the city, said.

After this story aired on ABC 11, Ed Batchelor, the president of Trademark Residential, contacted Eyewitness News. Batchelor clarified that Trademark is not the property's owner. It's a third-party management firm.

He says tenants were given verbal notification on May 20 and written notification shortly thereafter about the non-renewal leases. Batchelor said tenants are welcome to apply for the renovated apartments. But the new applications come with new requirements, including a monthly income three times more than the monthly rent; criminal background checks; and credit checks.

Batchelor says the company is working with some residents to find new housing. He also expressed a willingness to assist with moving expenses and application costs at alternative housing.

"We are willing to work with them and extend (the time to vacate) if we need to," Batchelor said. "We realize it will be longer for some people."