Saturday, July 08, 2017

Landlord Announces Plans To Terminate Section 8 Contract, Demolish 171-Unit Complex, & Rebuild, Leaving Over 100 Mostly Low Income Immigrant, Senior Citizen & Disabled Households Facing The Boot

In Milpitas, California, The Mercury News reports:
  • Told they have to leave by March, tenants of the Sunnyhills Apartment complex are worried they won’t be able to find comparable low-rent housing elsewhere and many even fear they could end up homeless.

    In interviews with the Milpitas Post over the last three weeks, residents like Vinh Nguyen said they have lived in the complex at 1724 Sunnyhills Drive for many years and built their lives there. Nguyen, a 20-year tenant at the complex, said most residents are either low-income immigrants who speak limited English, senior citizens or disabled.

    “We need time to get voucher and apply for other places to live. If apartment closes we don’t know where to go,” Nguyen said.

    Santa Clara based-JMK Investments, which owns the 171-unit property, informed residents of its plan to not renew a contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which subsidizes two-thirds of the units either directly or through Section 8 vouchers, which cover the difference between actual rents and what tenants can afford.

    JMK wants to tear down the complex and build 164 three-story and 57 two-story market-rate townhouses in its place.
    Antoinette Doyle, a 22-year Sunnyhills resident, said she’s started to give away some of the items collected over the years in case she is forced out. “I’ve called 50 to 60 places that are low-income, but most of them have a three- to five-year waiting list,” she said.

    Terry Perez, a single mother who has lived in the complex 17 years, said she finds the situation “heartbreaking and scary. I have my family but I am not guaranteed I am going to have a place to live. How scary is that? We have had people who have lived here for years, and for me and my daughter, she is going to Milpitas High School, she is going to graduate. If this happens and we get evicted, what’s going to happen, where we end up? Will we have good neighbors or access to good schools?”

    Perez said she’s called other affordable housing operators and been told there are years-long waiting lists. Some apartment complexes refuse to take Section 8 vouchers, she said, and others only accept them during certain times of the day, making it difficult for people with jobs to bring them in.

    Ken Wong said his mother-in-law Mei Qing Zhan, a resident of the complex, is almost 90, has a congenital heart disorder and is in a wheelchair, so some multi-level buildings that don’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements aren’t viable. And finding ones that are has been “impossible” since February.

    Sue Lawrence, a six-year Sunnyhills resident, said finding a place to relocate to and then getting the necessary help to move in will be a hardship.

    I am 78 years old and I am no spring chicken,” Lawrence said. “The last few years my son always helped me. He would help me, but he was murdered a couple of years ago and I have no one to help me. … It is a big expense for an old woman. I feel very insecure. … I’m really depressed, upset, scared, I don’t know what to do and which way to turn.”

    Patricia Lopez-Ruiz, who has lived in the complex for 22 years and whose two sons went through the Milpitas Unified School District, said there are many elderly tenants who want to live independently and wouldn’t be able to do so if they are kicked out. She said a lot of residents, including herself, “don’t have the money to move out. We live paycheck to paycheck.”

    Other residents mentioned feeling “sickened,” “not being able to eat or sleep,” and “anxious” about what will happen come March.

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