Saturday, August 2, 2014

Another Heritage House Owner/Resident Writes

Yesterday I posted a letter from a resident who owned the unit he and his wife lived in at Heritage House. Today another letter from a resident/owner at Heritage House who is now a refugee:  

"I moved into the building in 2008/2009

Back then the building was in great standing order, there were respectful people who lived in there.
I was placed there by someone who owned the units and was helping me transition from homelessness. I had been homeless on and off since I was 16 years old. I moved in at 22/23 years old. Even though I was homeless I still worked with agencies to go out and provide prayer and food, hygiene items to the homeless and after being housed I did the same as well.

When I was housed I paid the minimum amount if rent. I felt great back then because the building was a decent place to live. In the mist of my struggle a friend helped me when I was homeless and I vowed one day to do the same.

Let's fast forward to 2012. New owners came in and offered to put cameras in to protect their investments and everyone else's. At this point some older owners were retiring and giving their business to their sons/ daughters. Renting out property comes with great responsibility! New owners started moving in anyone who had the money up front.

In the summer of 2013 this proved to be a difficult year for myself and many others! By this time I had made friends with the kids in the building who were deemed " trouble makers ". I offered peer one on one support and often took these kids to various places in Greensboro to get them out of their environment for awhile. I tutored at risk children also because most of their parents did not finish high school and they needed guidance and help with reading, math and social skills.

I collected coats during the fall to give out to men, women, and children in the building who could not afford to get a winter jacket. I bought book bags and school supplies for kids in need and also watched over the kids at the bus stop in the mornings. I was very engaged into bettering the heritage house. There were a lot of elderly and disabled people who could not afford food and in time I would cook big meals to feed anyone who was hungry. I had a kid cone up to me and cry last week because he said he did not want to move and lose my friendship because he knew when he was hungry I would feed him. He came to my house 6 days a week wanting to eat because his family could not feed him. He was sad too because he was just starting to like my Sunday school lessons and wanted to know more about God. It breaks my heart that the city decided to shut the building down without first trying to help the citizens who lived there.

Landlords were told about destruction to property with solid proof of the persons responsible yet did nothing.

In mid 2013 I was given properties at this time as a pay it forward present. I lived in an apartment upstairs and rented at a low cost the two studio apartments I had down stairs. I provided furniture, food, and basic items needed when someone new would move in. I provided lite case management to those people in efforts to prepare them with transitioning back into society. With so much bad going on in the building, I and a few others were doing so much good!

At the beginning of 2014 I received a letter from the hoa's attorney office demanding I pay a negative balance I owed in HOA dues. $2600.00.

I had fallen behind because I moved in someone who was a homeless teenager and unfortunately he stripped the apartment of all the copper and messed up the unit. It took me awhile to understand that he has some serious issues and was not ready for housing.

At the end of Feb thru the month of April I paid over 2,600.00 to the home owners association. Every check I got I handed it over to secure my roof over my head.

When June came around I made more payments and only owed $1600.00. This was what I owed during the months I made payments. What I am starting to see now is where did that money go?

Why did these people who gave me these apartments want to get rid of them so quickly? Perhaps they knew this was going to happen and wanted their hands to be clean? Was it really a pay it forward deed?

The city came and did the inspections on my birthday! That really made my day. I was not prepared for then to come in. I felt like it was an invasion of privacy because I didn't even get a 24 hour notice!

Two police officers came in with a court worker and an animal control guy came in too. He started asking me questions about my cats and approached the matter like I was not taking care of them! I stopped him dead in his tracks because my babies were feed everyday and they did not have fleas. My home did not have roaches or bed bugs and I felt so disgusted when he unzipped my mattress to look at the seams. I felt like I was being looked down on because I lived at the heritage House. I did have issues with my apartment but it was an easy fix. Had I known ahead of time they were coming I would have resolved those issues before they stepped foot inside my home.

When July came around all the landlords had planned to collect the rent to make a payment on the utility bills. The city came and posted notices about the utilities being cut off on the 22nd of July. This screwed all the landlords in an effort to make a large payment towards what was owed.

In the leading weeks to being forced to move from our homes, it was hard. Everyone was emotionally and financially unstable at this point. I prayed for many people during this time and was the main support system for a lot of the residents still left behind as the days inched closer.

As the 22nd approached the police told us that the city extended the close date to the 30th of July. This have us an extra week to find housing.

For people like me this was difficult. I did not have any money saved up and I could not afford to move. At this moment I am staying with a friend with all of my cats because she refused to allow me to be homeless. Because I owned where I lived at, I did not have to have a full time job. I worked part time down the street and life was great.

Now I have $400.00 to my name and I am praying God provides a way financially for me to rent this house on Monday. I recently was interviewed for a management position and should start in a couple of weeks. I have been emotionally a wreck behind being forced to move me and my cats out of our home! It made me cry to put them into cart crates as they have never been in them.

If I have any questions it is what do I do now? Work won't start for a couple of weeks, I don't have my deposit for my house, I didn't have to worry about utility bills living there BC the hoa fees covered it. What about my properties? Will I get anything for them or is the city really that shady to condemn the apartments so they won't have to pay out any money to the owners. What is a girl like me to do except pray and hope to get my life back on track

-Signed in a bottomless pit asking for help."

The City of Greensboro wants you to believe that everyone who lived at Heritage House was paying rent to a slumlord. That isn't the case. The writer of this letter lived in the condo she owned and used the other two units she owned to help transition people out of homelessness. Now the City of Greensboro has made her homeless again.

Why is the City of Greensboro continuing to lie to us about Heritage House?