Out-of-court settlement gives tenants of Starkville apartments more time before mass eviction but some have only days to find new homes
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Wednesday morning, Oktibbeha County Chancery Court Judge Joe Studdard announced that Ferretti Property Services reached an out-of-court settlement with 21 tenants of the Catherine Street apartment complex.
“Today, this was good. I’m very happy for these clients,” says attorney Austin Vollor. “I’m very proud how they stood their ground and they should have.”
This comes as residents, many of them lower-income with children and in some cases, disabilities, face mass eviction.
“Either way, I’m still basically stuck,” says Vashante Gray, a Catherine Street Apartments tenant who says she is raising two children, ages two and six. “No money, no food, trying to get help. Because they basically just done threw us out on the streets.”
Residents at the Starkville apartment complex claim property owners went door-to-door with police on August 27th telling them they had one hour to vacate the premises.
“How am I supposed to have a newborn baby, and move on out the house in an hour?” Gray asked. “Where am I putting everything? On the porch?”
Vollor filed an injunction on the grounds that Ferretti Property did not give residents a 30-day notice to move out. Wednesday’s settlement gives tenants an extension to find somewhere else to go.
“Both sides were able to get what they thought was a fair resolution for both sides,” Vollor says. “And it gives our group more time.”
“I’m happy about the more time, I just feel like it was wrong from the beginning,” Gray says.
Tenants who Ferretti Property allegedly filed suit against in August have an extra nine days to move. Tenants who were due in court on September 29th must now be out by that day instead. Residents with certain health conditions have until October 14th to relocate.
And while many residents are grateful for the extra time, those nine days loom large.
“It really hurts me that I have to find that out that I have nine days to leave,” says Natoshia Wilson. “I thought they would at least extend it to at least 30 days to find everybody in the apartment complex somewhere to live.”
Dianndra Gay says even the September 29th date isn’t enough time. She says she has been searching for an apartment since August.
“They’re talking about credit scores or people don’t have any apartments available till November, January and all that,” she says.
Another small victory for the tenants is that this ruling will help them qualify for emergency housing.
“Through this court order, we’re going to be able to give them an order that allows them to take that to get the assistance they need to relocate,” Vollor says.
In the meantime, the Oktibbeha County branch of the NAACP and charity organization Starkville Strong are helping however they can.
“They’ve been helping everyone find somewhere else to go, been helping with food, they’ve been helping with everything we need,” Gray says. “That’s the only hope we have right now.”
The press was asked to leave the courtroom for the announcement of the specific details of the settlement but Vollor says that should be released in the next few days.
WCBI reached out to the attorneys for Ferretti Property Services but they declined to comment.