GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) — Time is running out for residents of Forest Hills apartments in Garner to find a new place to live.
Around a dozen people are still struggling to find affordable housing ahead of the June 15 deadline they were given by apartment complex owners, Ellers Capital Partners.
Yolanda Smith’s 14-year-old is supposed to start high school in Garner this fall. Now, they don’t even know where they’ll be living next month, let alone next school year.
“I can name 10 people just off the top of my head that is in the same situation I am. They’re going every day, every day, every day and there’s nothing,” said Smith.
Smith’s been searching for affordable housing since February, when she got a notice from Forest Hills property owners about renovations and higher rent. Two weeks ago Wake County Commissioners made a public plea for help, which Smith appreciates. She says her town however, has dropped the ball.
“They have made it very clear that their hands are tied and there is nothing they are going to do,” said Smith.
“Folks are looking to us because we’re government, but there are already government agencies in place that deal with housing and housing situations,” said Rodney Dickerson, town manager of Garner.
Dickerson says the town was aware that improvements would be made at Forest Hills and that rent would rise to market-rate.
“I had no idea that many residents were on vouchers right across the street from town hall,” said Dickerson.
The town didn’t expect residents would be forced out, and Dickerson says they couldn’t have done anything to stop it.
“If a private property owner wants to sell their property, we really don’t have the authority to stop that,” he explained.
His explanations, however, do little for Smith, who is weighing options like moving in with family, paying for a hotel, or staying in a shelter.
“Can you imagine a 14-year-old having to go into a homeless shelter when she’s getting ready to start her first year of high school?” Smith asked.
Smith has been advised by Legal Aid of North Carolina to stay in her apartment past the June 15 deadline if she hasn’t secured other housing. How the apartment complex would handle that, remains to be seen.
CBS North Carolina is waiting to hear back from property owners about what could happen after the deadline.
Smith says Legal Aid of North Carolina has been in touch with the apartment owners, but no deals or compromises have been made.