Tenants Told To Leave By Monday, Left With Few Options - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/10/05

Tenants Told To Leave By Monday, Left With Few Options

Everyday at WLOX we take dozens of calls from people who say their landlords are demanding rent and threatening to evict them from their apartments and homes.

One place where apartments residents are being told to leave is in West Gulfport. The company that manages Edgewood Manor Apartments reportedly told tenants on Thursday the complex is condemned and they must be out by Monday the 12th.

Most of the tenants at Edgewood Manor Apartments are low income single mothers. This is where they can afford to live and Hurricane Katrina condemned their homes.

"My bathroom ceiling is falling in and my front living room ceiling is caving in too. I really can't say if it's liveable. I wouldn't want to be in there when the rest of the ceiling falls in," tenant Sherry Mikell says.

With no or very little money, Mikell says many people don't know what they're going to do when they're forced to leave Monday. She's pondering the offer of housing from a man in Mobile.

"He's willing to come over here and bring a U-haul if we have anything we want to take back with us then he'd be more than happy. He's been out here just about every day coming from Mobile, bringing us hot food, clothes, whatever we needed," Mikell said.

These people need a lot.

"Everybody here's got to get out Monday. I don't have 50 cents and I don't have nowhere to go," tenant Linda Skinner said.

That's why Skinner and her daughter Gloria Smith haven't moved out yet. They live in a second story apartment.

"This is everything we own. There's all my clothes under there. It's all wet. It's completely trashed with no roof and very little time to get out. He said if you're not out by Monday they gonna nail it up. If you don't have your stuff out of here, they're gonna nail it up and you can't come back and get it. But we don't have nothing to come get cause all ours is gone anyway."

"We're supposed to be leaving but we don't have the money to leave with yet. We're supposed to be going to New York somewhere," tenant Gloria Smith said.

If those plans fall through, Smith, her mother, and any other homeless tenant can go to a Red Cross shelter at Central Middle School near Milner Stadium.

"We always tell them they can come to a shelter. That we have showers, we have electricity, it's air conditioned," Wayne Sweeney with the Red Cross said.

Because the people are exposed to such primitive conditions, medical personnel from the Florida Health Department are checking them out and making sure they're healthy enough to relocate.

"It's basic first aid and triaging for more serious conditions. Our physician is seeing a lot of rashes, a lot of things that are potentially related to the environment not being stable to the boil water notices," Jim Goodman with the Florida Health Department said.

The free first aid is one of the small comforts these rescue workers can give to people whose lives the hurricane turned upside down.

No manager was on the property while we were there. We called Southland Management Corporation in Jackson. They were closed, so we left a message, but no one has returned our call.

The Attorney General's office is investigating reports of apartment managers evicting people and raising rents.

by Marcia Hill

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