NEWPORT, Ky. — Staff at Newport Independent Schools are scrambling to help 45 students who are about to lose their homes. The new landlords of Victoria Square Apartments ordered residents to vacate in phases starting Sept. 30.
Property owners planned major renovations that will eventually require renters to pay market rates. Currently, the units are affordable housing for hundreds of people, including families struggling to find another place to live.
Victoria Square resident Michele Green's daughter is a Newport High School senior on the verge of missing out.
"When I told her, 'Hey we have to move,' she's like, 'Where to?'" Green said. "I'm like I don't know, because I don't know."
In the last 10 months, Northern Kentucky lost 598 affordable housing units. Victoria Square residents fortunate enough to find something available elsewhere can barely afford offers. Green's only option so far requires her and her partner to spend twice what they currently pay.
"We've been to Dayton (Kentucky)," she said. "We've called Erlanger, Elsmere, Florence. Besides the Brighton Center and the school district, nobody else big has really (stepped up). It's not like we matter."
With 14%-16% of students already living between homes in hotels, shelters or sharing space with friends/family, Newport Independent Schools staff fear those numbers could swell.
"It's hard because I just got off the phone with a family and all I can do, me and as a school district, we can say hey we've got your back when it comes to school," said Kristy McNally, Newport Independent Schools McKinney-Vento coordinator. "We got you."
The district plans to give families food and clothes. The hope is that such donations help them save money for moving and housing costs.
“We feel bad for the families and we’re going to do everything in our power here as a district and as a school to help them in any way that we can,” Newport Independent Schools superintendent Tony Watts said.
What is critical for many feels out of reach, Green said. She wants a three-bedroom apartment so bad that she is willing to work a second job to get it.
Location matters, though.
Newport administrators said, by law, displaced students can still attend Newport schools.
Transportation to do so is not guaranteed, though, and Green’s daughter knows it.
“The little kids in this community don’t know,” said Green. “They see moms and dads crying and grandmas and grandpas but they really don’t understand. For (my daughter), she knows. I’m sure on the inside it’s tearing her up. It’s very sad.”
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