Legal Aid, Santa Maria work on plan to help dozens of families who may be forced to move

Legal Aid, Santa Maria work on plan to help dozens of families who may be forced to move
Posted at 5:40 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 17:40:40-04

CINCINNATI -- If Kimberly Griffith has to leave her home of four years, she says she's glad she won't be on her own.

Griffin and dozens of families found out recently they may have to move out of Eagle Watch, a large apartment complex off Sunset Avenue in West Price Hill. All receive Section 8 housing assistance to stay there.

Because the property failed the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority's housing standards, the agency told 59 families on rental assistance they'd need to move by June 30.

Then came some hope: After learning about WCPO's first report, Santa Maria Community Services and the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio began working with residents to make that process easier.

Griffith hopes she and others can get help with relocation funds. They also want their deposits back sooner. A landlord typically keeps a deposit for 30 days after a tenant moves out. For many low-income people, that's money needed for a deposit on another apartment.

"Many can't afford to just pick up and move again," said Tonicia Green, housing coordinator for Santa Maria.

The problems at Eagle Watch include issues with the roof and plumbing lines, according to online inspection records. Also, an entry driveway is collapsing. Griffith said it's been sliding down a hill "for a long time, and the problem is just getting worse and worse."


The owner of Eagle Watch, Zingenuity Eagles Watch LLC, has already begun some repairs. WCPO has attempted to reach the property owner for comment. Nick DiNardo, Legal Aid managing attorney, said CMHA sometimes lets residents stay if a landlord completes repairs before tenants have to move.

Kenneth Smith, one of Griffith's neighbors, said he's continued looking for a new place to live. When he first learned he'd have to leave, he said he feared he may end up homeless.

Santa Maria and Legal Aid told him last week about a tenant meeting Wednesday night. Like Griffith, he said he'd be looking for help with moving costs. Green said Santa Maria and Legal Aid were brainstorming ways to find the money.

"It gives us hope it gives us hope, some hope, where there was no hope before," he said.

Santa Maria also will work on a plan for residents who may want to stay, Green said.

"It’s been a very stressful process," Griffith said, "so, you know, the help that we're getting should ease some of the tension a little bit."