Deadline looms for Garner residents being forced from apartments after rent hike


GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) — Today is the last day for some people at a Garner apartment complex to find a new home.

The residents of the Forest Hills apartments are being forced out and this is a story that CBS North Carolina has been following for weeks.

The complex was affordable house eligible but in February the new owners, Ellers Capital Partners, told residents that renovations were on the way and rent was going up to market rate.

The hike in rent resulted in dozens of residents having to find a new place to live. Thursday is the deadline to move out.

The letter informing residents their housing vouchers will no longer be accepted (Beairshelle Edme/CBS North Carolina)

Around 12 people are still struggling to find affordable housing ahead of the deadline they were given by Ellers.

Resident Yolanda Smith said this is a problem for so many and especially for those with school-aged children. Her 14-year-old daughter is supposed to start high school in Garner this fall. Now the two don’t know where they’ll be 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. “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?”

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The Town of Garner and Wake County have tried to find a solution but nothing has worked so far and a lot of residents don’t see that changing by Thursday.

“They don’t care about us. They threw us out like trash, like trash,” said Karryen Leah, a disabled resident. “I’m frustrated. I don’t have nowhere to go!”

Neighbor Deera Champion echoed Leah’s disappointment, saying of the new owners, “I don’t even know what to call you. I can’t even say if you’re an animal or you just heartless.”

“These people don’t know what they have done to my life. All I want to do is feel happy safe and secure. They took all that away from me,” she said.

CBS North Carolina did try to contact the management team and owner of the complex, but requests for an interview have not been returned.

Sylvia Freeland, who said she’s lived at the complex for eight years, said she understands the company is doing what it has to do, but she doesn’t approve of how they’ve carried out its plans.

“…My opinion, it’s kind of wrong because they don’t take into consideration of everybody that live here,” Freeland detailed. “We didn’t ask for this. We didn’t see this coming and I think communication is the key and it threw everybody off.”

Elizabeth Harmantzis, the Wake County communications specialist, told CBS North Carolina that the response from the community to the pending eviction has been great.

A few examples Harmantzis sent include:

  • An Uber driver who has been donating rides to and from new properties so that residents can submit lease applications;
  • A man with a moving company who offered the Forest Hills residents free moving help; and
  • A real estate agent who offered to assist the residents in finding properties that accept Section 8 housing vouchers

Harmantzis said that any landlords interested in accepting tenants with Section 8 vouchers should contact the Wake County Housing Division at 919-856-5689.

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