CORVALLIS, Ore. – Dozens of families have been evicted from a Corvallis apartment complex after a switch in ownership, and some of the tenants aren’t leaving without putting up a fight.
Riverstone Residential Group, a Texas-based company, purchased the Corvalla apartments, now named The Park at 5th Street. Renovations started, and tenants say they started receiving no-cause eviction notices in waves. The first batch of tenants was required to move out before Jan. 1.
Four tenants had not turned in their keys before the first of the month, and court documents show that The Park at 5th Street filed claims against these tenants who had not yet vacated.
One tenant, Deanna Wedig, says she is disabled and has not yet found another place to live.
“I wasn’t prepared for them to give me an eviction,” she said. “Because when I moved in, Linda the old owner, assured me I would be fine.”
Wedig says she is receiving Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for rent, but she only started receiving the benefits when she moved into the Corvalla apartments six months ago.
“On HUD your first time, you have to stay in the same place for a year. But the way they (The Park at 5th Street) did it – they put me on month-to-month so they could throw me out at any time they wanted to.”
Wedig had a hearing at the Benton County Courthouse on Monday for not yet vacating. She requested a trial, but was not able to turn in her paperwork on time. In order to answer to a trial, one must pay a court fee or request a waiver or deferral of the filing fees. Wedig says she couldn’t pay the fee, so she needed to provide proof of income. She says it took her a while before she could get back to the courthouse.
“I can’t take them (the company) to court because I’ve already lost because I didn’t turn my papers in by 5 o’clock,” she said. “Which I was there in the courthouse before five o’clock. And they wouldn’t let me see them. They wouldn’t let me turn in my papers.”
The courthouse says it closes right at 5 pm, and that Wedig appeared afterwards. The court also says it takes time to go over the paperwork, and employees need to be out by 5 pm.
Now, Wedig says she feels helpless, and does not know where to go. She has started packing her belongings, wondering when she might be forced out of her apartment. A judgment order is yet to be made about her case.
“I don’t have anywhere to go and I’m not going to the street,” she said. “What am I going to do? And the places you go to look at, they want 40 bucks a piece for application fees, which I can’t afford. And they have waiting lists – which I’m on several – but it doesn’t do me any good right now.”
Wedig lives with her best friend Wiggles, a cat she says she originally got for medical purposes. But she would not be able to take the cat to a homeless shelter.
The three homeless shelters in Corvallis say if they are not full, they are close to capacity. The seasonal women’s shelter says it has a few beds available. The seasonal men’s shelter says each night fluctuates, but if it’s not full, it is close to capacity. Community Outreach, Inc, a shelter that houses women, men, and families year-round, says it only has two beds for single men available.
Another tenant who was evicted from The Park at 5th Street says she moved out after her eviction date. Dawn Lyman, a mother of two boys, says she also was supposed to vacate by Jan. 1, but she turned her keys in a few days late. She is now homeless, living with friends or staying at hotels. However, the court dismissed her case since she had vacated before the hearing.
As much as Lyman says she would like to fight the new owners in court, she says she doesn’t have the means to.
“I don’t have the money,” she said. “I don’t have the energy or the time to fight it when I need to find a place to live for me and my boys.”
Community Outreach says it is housing multiple tenants who have been evicted from the apartment complex. The shelter says not only are the evictions putting a stress on the shelters in town, but that the city is losing one of its lowest-cost apartment buildings. Rent for one-bedroom apartments used to start out at $500. Now, the website says they start at $725. Community Outreach says it used to refer many people who would stay at the shelter to the Corvalla as they were trying to find permanent housing.
KEZI 9 News has tried reaching out to Riverstone Residential Group multiple times within the past week but still have not heard back.