Starkville apartment residents have just days to find new homes amid mass evictions from low-income housing
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Residents at Starkville’s Catherine Street Apartment Complex claim property owners went door-to-door with police on Friday, telling them they had one hour to vacate the premises.
“How can we pack up and go in an hour?” asked tenant Lenell Scales. “We don’t have money, we don’t have nothing.”
Ferretti Property Services bought the complex in May and has made the decision to not renew the leases for the 65 housing units.
“They didn’t give us no time to see how many days or nothing did we have (to leave),” says Lenell’s daughter Adrienne, who shares an apartment with her mother. “They weren’t thinking about our kids or anything.”
Adrienne is the mother of four children who also live in the apartment. She says she started packing that day.
“I threw most of my stuff in the garbage because I didn’t have nowhere to put it,” she says.
Attorney Austin Vollor, who represents the apartment tenants, says the property owners did not give them a 30 notice to leave.
“If you take over a property, you have a right to do whatever you want to do with your property, you’re a private owner,” says Yulanda Haddix, president of the Oktibbeha County branch of the NAACP. “However, you still have the right to make sure people have the adequate, appropriate time frame to find appropriate housing.”
Tuesday, Vollor’s law firm filed an injunction and held an emergency hearing. A temporary restraining order from Oktibbeha County Chancery Court gave residents 10 more days to pack up all they have and find somewhere else to live.
Haddix and the NAACP are doing what they can to help and Starkville Strong is collecting donations for the residents.
“We did some assessing and now what we’re doing is, we’re working with apartment complexes to make sure we get everyone assessed and get them into adequate housing,” she says.
But many of the residents are in low-income households and live with disabilities.
“This was my last option,” says Caroline Gregg, who has lived on Catherine Street for nearly six years. “I had to take it or not.”
“I got too much on me right now,” Adrienne said through tears.”I got to find somewhere to stay for my kids, I’m getting put out, I don’t know where to go. It’s hard.”
Vollor says the tenants allege that Ferretti allowed their leases to expire, which converted their tenancy to a month-to-month tenancy. Ferretti Property allegedly filed suit to evict residents on both July 26th and August 18th.
“You came in knowing that ‘I’m not going to give you a lease, so at any time, I can decide I don’t want you there,'” Haddix says. “That’s taking advantage of an underserved community.”
A community that is now left searching for answers and new homes.
“It just really hurt for them to put us out on the street like this,” Lenell says. “We ain’t got nowhere to go. I guess we have to stay in the car.”
WCBI reached out to Ferretti Property Services for comment but they have not responded at this time. They will have their day in court on September 8th.