People facing homelessness after given two days notice to vacate apartment complex for storm repairs

Published: Aug. 23, 2020 at 5:46 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Dozens of families living at the Arrowridge and Shamrock Apartments on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids had to be out of their units Sunday for storm damage repairs.

That’s after only being given two days’ notice to vacate, but many don’t know how long that would be, nor have the resources to move. Plus, many of them are non-English speakers.

“I confirmed with the property manager out there that residents formally received notice 48 hours ahead of time, but according to him, he’d been communicating with folks before,” Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker said.

Walker, along with officials from the City of Cedar Rapids met with the complex’s property manager Sunday as they work to find a place for people to stay.

“What is most important to me is that we don’t have folks sleeping on the street at night. So if we can get folks basic, temporary shelter and get their basic needs met, then I can consider that a success while we start to formulate a plan for long-term housing resettlement,” Walker said.

The notice, obtained by TV9 says residents do have the option to return when repairs are complete, but all of their belongings need to be removed, or will be removed for them. A cleaning service had already started the process for some Saturday night. Those costs coming out of tenant’s deposits.

Evacuation notice some residents received at Shamrock Arrowridge Apartments in Cedar Rapids.
Evacuation notice some residents received at Shamrock Arrowridge Apartments in Cedar Rapids. (KCRG)

“Every earthly thing that they own are contained in these apartments and that’s a big concern of theirs when they leave the complex, even going into safe shelter, they don’t want to leave their things behind,” Meghan Riden said.

Riden is a volunteer with the Emerging Communities Crisis Coalition. The local group of volunteers started because of the storm’s aftermath and arrived Sunday to help provide temporary storage for residents – many of whom she said don’t speak English and have little resources.

Walker said translators were made available to assist, but he wishes the removal process could have been handled differently.

“I don’t want to assign blame or be too critical here because these are trying times for everyone, but I would hope every property manager, owner, landlord in this community will do the best that can and work with their local government and local agencies to provide and any assistance that’s needed to a lot for these tenants,” Walker said.

Other people at the complex are being asked to leave their units for just eight days for mitigation efforts. One resident told TV9 she has nowhere to go and no money for a hotel, especially after being out of work the past week due to the storm.

Notice of mitigation work in some Shamrock Arrowridge apartments.
Notice of mitigation work in some Shamrock Arrowridge apartments.(KCRG)

Walker said oftentimes, people with fewer resources are hit the hardest during a disaster, like a derecho.

“We have a responsibility, if not a legal responsibility, certainly a moral responsibility to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure folks have a place to lay their head at night,” he said.

The City contacted TV9 after the story aired and said everyone at the Shamrock Apartments now has a place to live. The City and County worked with the landlord and were able to set up all residents with housing and transportation. They also said anyone needing housing assistance should call United Way at 211.

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