NEWPORT, Ky. — Hundreds of tenants suddenly need new homes after their new landlord announced plans to renovate Victoria Square apartments in Newport.
Cadence of Newport, LLC and Sunset Property Solutions said they will "absolutely be honoring all lease terms" for current tenants. The companies plan to begin renovations in two phases. The first requires people on month-to-month leases to vacate by Sept. 30. The second will force other renters to move by the end of January.
Once the work is complete, property owners plan to rent every unit at market rate, which is a major concern for residents on a fixed income or those relying on Section 8 vouchers only able to afford their current rent. Many pay less than $700 a month to live at Victoria Square, which sits on a bus line.
The complex is within walking distance of Newport on the Levee and multi-million dollar development rising around Ovation Theater.
"I feel horrified," said Regina McClain, a retired resident of Victoria Square. "We can barely afford what we have."
The weight of searching for new affordable housing moved some to tears.
"I'm scared not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring," Rick McGee, another resident, said. "I was secure here. I had a roof over my head. Now, I don't know."
Cadence of Newport, LLC bought the complex for $26.6 million on July 7, according to county records. One of the partners, Josh Slonim told WCPO 9 News his group plans to install central air in buildings that have window units, replace windows and upgrade other structures built in the 1960s.
However, their management company's first letter to tenants mentioned none of that last week. Six days later, a second notice warned tenants of major construction and listed seven affordable places where renters could move-in.
"Those places that they put down there already have a long waiting list," Narkita Covington said. "They're already filled up. Trust me, somebody knew that before they put these places on here."
Those on a fixed income or Section 8, some paying less than $700 a month in rent, feel pressure to find a place in 70 days or less.
"That's what hurts me the most, the disrespect," Covington said. "It seems like nobody has a heart. Don't do this to the little man, please. Don't do that to us. That's not right."
Many turned to the Brighton Center, whose 300 affordable housing units are full. Still, they are trying to help.
The NAACP's Northern Kentucky Chapter wants a community meeting.
"We are concerned about where the residents are going to go," said chapter president Jerome Bowles. "How they're going to transition? What resources are going to be provided?"
Though developers will honor all current lease terms, they might have no obligation to do much more.
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