LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Over 50 people living at Riverside at Oakbourne Townhomes and Apartments have been allowed more time to move out of the complex to accomodate remodeling.
The complex have now given tenants 45 days to leave the property so new management could do major renovations. Residents were offered studios and one-bedroom apartments at Acadian Crossing.
Previously, the new owners of the complex gave tenants just five days to vacate.
Cindy Landry, a tenant, said she has been living at Riverside for nearly 20 years, and said the shoirt notice to vacate was a tough time for everyone living there.
“I guess the company came around and realized how to take care of those valuable people,” Landry said.
Community advocate Tara Fogleman said many of the units are home to families.
“Husband, wife, a child or two children,” Fogleman said. “There’s a lady who has a couple of her grandchildren that she’s raising so even the original offer of, ‘Well they can move to Acadia Crossing,’ that’s studio apartments and the housing rules haven’t changed over the years. If there’s more than two people in one bedroom that’s actually considered over-housed. So respectfully, you can’t put a married couple in a studio one bedroom apartment with a few children.”
Landry said her biggest concern was the short notice.
“I totally understand that the place needed to be renovated,” she said. “We definitely needed some updates, and the rent was the way it was because they couldn’t have probably charged that much and gotten competitive rates because of the condition of the location. It was home to all of us. It was a small little community. It was really nice. It’s quiet there. I was on the riverside, so that was a good view, and you know, you just get used to hearing the airplanes go over. That’s not a big deal.
“But the main thing was the lack of communication and how it was presented to us all of a sudden, and for me personally, it was time.”
Landry said she works part-time and has a mother who she cares for.
“Just to ask me to move in a five-day notice for 20 years of stuff that’s just unbelievable,” she said.
Parish councilman A.B. Rubin said he wrote a letter to the owner of this apartment complex asking them for more time to be able to find adequate living space.
“They agree to give the residents time,” Rubin said. “They’re going to work with them to allow them to have the time to find other places, and they also agree to…well, they’re working on some of the units right now, and if they finish one of the units and someone wants to continue staying here they’ll allow them to move from the unit that they’re currently in into one of the brand new units. Of course, the price won’t be the same. The price will go up, but they’re offering that up to them as well.”
In addition, management offered to help residents with moving expenses, manpower and a moving van they would need to be able to move to their new home.
“It helps out because that’s a lot of stress on people to try to get out and find something within five days,” Rubin said. “Even if you’re trying to, you already have a place to move, it still takes you better than 45 days to try to be able to get out of one situation into another.”
Property Manager Shawn Johnson said as long as residents paid their rent he will work on their schedule.
“A lot of those five days turned into two weeks,” Johnson said. “A lot of those two weeks was turned into thirty days and then some of those were even on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “At the end of the day we are improving the property. We’re looking forward to a good turnout.”
Fogleman said residents she spoke to distrust the manager and are scared that he’s going to go back on his word.
“There’s a number of them that are still on edge. The anxiety is high,” she said. “It affects everybody in a different way but the original reach out was done with no class and no respect that these people do not trust this company and this man.”
She told News 10 if the company handled matters better, many residents wouldn’t have to contact the parish councilman, the president of the NAACP and she wouldn’t have to use her platform on social media.
“Just think twice before big business comes to Lafayette and then puts our community brothers and sisters at risk of homelessness,” Fogleman said. “I like to think that Lafayette has the ability to show love and compassion to one another and clearly this company did not. Business is business I understand that but business can be so much better when you show just a small measure of compassion.”
Fogleman adds concerns about the area of the apartments dealing with flooding.
“The way I’m understanding from residents, Riverside has many times flooded and has black mold and to repair they have always put paint over it,” she said. “So my question is: Is Servio breaking down walls and changing out the walls because of the black mold or are they just going to continue painting over? And what kind of illness is that going to bring to our children when it comes to ear infections and upper respiratory infections with mold under paint?”
Johnson said the property is not in a flood zone.
“I’m glad that they turned it around and made some concessions for everyone but I hope they take care of the residents there moving forward and that may be something that I want to wait and see how that happens,” Landry said.