'Children are going to be out on the streets': Section 8 families get eviction notices

Heather Graf reports.

RENTON, Wash. -- It's happening at the Renton Woods Apartments on Petrovitsky Road in Renton, Washington.

"We have children that are going to be out on the streets," said Elimika James, a single mother of five. "Just to know that we're going to be homeless, it's not a good feeling."

James and every other tenant with a Section 8 housing voucher got an eviction notice on their door, giving them 60 days to vacate their apartments. For James, that quickly approaching deadline is Oct. 31.

"He'll be four on Halloween," James said, pointing at her youngest son. "And the day I have to be out, that's his birthday."

Section 8 is a federal government program "for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market," according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Tenants Union of Washington is now working with Renton Woods neighbors, trying to help find a solution. They held a meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss tenants' options and next steps.

"Giving them 60 days notice is technically legal. However, in this rental climate, especially for people who are voucher holders, it's extremely difficult to relocate in that time period," said Hana Alicic with the Tenants Union of Washington. "Ultimately what we'd like is to be able to sit down with the property management company and have a conversation with them. The tenants would at least like to have more time to be able to move. A lot of folks have children in school here. A lot of folks work near this apartment building."

Alicic said they've reached out to Calibrate Property Management multiple times and even invited them to Wednesday's meeting, but they declined.

She said it's a tough situation because Calibrate isn't doing anything to break the law, but she said that doesn't make it right.

"I think we're all aware that there are some things that are legal but are still unethical and still feel wrong," said Alicic. "In this case, Renton doesn't have any source of income discrimination protection."

Renton Woods Apartments issued the following statement to KING:

"The Renton housing program is elective and voluntary, after due consideration, Renton Woods has chosen to withdraw from this elective program."

James and her neighbors are now appealing to Renton City Council for help.

"When you do things like this, it's just wrong. It's just wrong, and someone needs to stand up and do something," said resident Toya Thomas, who has lived at Renton Woods Apartments for five years. "It's not fair. It hurts. It really hurts."

The Tenants Union said they would like to see Renton city leaders pass legislation that protects against income-based discrimination.

Seattle recently passed similar legislation. In parts of unincorporated King County, according to the Tenants Union, if a tenant is on a Section Eight housing voucher, a landlord cannot legally say they won't accept you because of that voucher.

"We've got our families to think about, our kids. It's not just us. It's the kids. And it's right before the holidays," said James.  

Copyright 2016 KING


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment