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More than half of Starkville apartment tenants face homelessness after mass evictions

More than half of Starkville apartment tenants face homelessness after mass evictions
More than half of Starkville apartment tenants face homelessness after mass evictions(WCBI)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Wednesday was the day that many tenants of the Catherine Street Apartment Complex in Starkville have been dreading.

For more than a month, residents, many with lower incomes, children and, in some cases, disabilities, have faced mass eviction after new owner Ferretti Property Services chose not to renew their leases.

“They knew the day was coming,” says Yulanda Haddix, president of the Oktibbeha County branch of the NAACP. “This is the only security they’ve had for the last couple of years. And most of these tenants have always had to be kicked out of somewhere because they had nowhere to go.”

That cycle continues for those who once called the Catherine Street Apartment Complex home.

Ferretti Property bought the complex in May and allegedly filed suit to evict residents on both July 26 and August 18. Since then, residents have been searching desperately for new homes.

“I was going around looking for a place, but I never could find anything,” says Golden Lee, who has lived on Catherine Street for about five years.

An out-of-court settlement on September 8 gave many tenants until the 29 to move. By that day, most of the apartments were empty.

“There’s a waiting list at every subsidized housing complex,” Haddix says. “Also, as far as our housing authority, they have no space.”

Haddix has been one of those working to help residents find housing. She says that of the 60-plus people that have had to relocate, more than half still don’t have a place to live.

“Today, some people will be in their cars with their children,” she says. “That is absolutely [something] I did not want to see.”

Haddix says she has sought the help of private landlords - friends who could offer long-term housing for 10 of the 23 displaced families.

“For the last month, I’ve been calling, begging, making some personal commitments myself, just saying that, ‘If you give them a chance, I’m going to work with these individuals,’” she says.

Golden and her daughter Ada say they had a hearing with Ferretti Property Thursday morning that was dismissed in Oktibbeha County Justice Court, giving them two extra weeks to move

“I’m disabled, me and my daughter, and we don’t get no benefits till the first and the third [of the month],” Golden says.

Ultimately, Haddix says it is up to the community to come together to help save the Lees and so many others that are facing homelessness.

“These people cannot be forgotten,” she says. “This will not end unless we make a difference.”

Golden says that she has spoken with Mississippi United to End Homelessness about emergency housing but they can only qualify for that after they become homeless.

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