Kennedy residents get more time to remove items


Published: Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at 11:29 p.m.
The owner of problem-riddled Kennedy Homes has decided to give displaced residents extra time to empty belongings from their apartments.
Aimco had set a deadline of today for residents to have moved beds, couches, televisions and - for one family, their goldfish - into new living accommodations or storage units. The rundown apartments were shut down two months ago because of safety concerns.
The 174-apartment facility at 1721 SE 8th Ave. once housed approximately 450 residents.
Residents of the 113 units still with items in them now may have a month or more to make other arrangements, said Mack Gipson, an Aimco regional property manager.
"We will work with them as long as it takes," Gipson said.
Residents - many of whom have been living in the financially beleaguered University Centre Hotel since - were informed of the change earlier this week in a newsletter.
"Everything me and my children got is in that apartment," said Nicole Gaines, the mother of twin 6-year-old boys.
Aimco worked out the extension with representatives of the National Housing Group, a Florida-based organization brought in by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist with the relocation of Kennedy Homes' residents, Gipson said.
HUD declined to discuss its relationship with the National Housing Group, which arrived in town Dec. 18 apparently because HUD stopped subsidy payments to Kennedy Homes.
"We don't discuss matters under pending litigation," said Jerry Brown, a public relations specialist with HUD.
HUD is one of nine defendants named in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Kennedy Homes tenants' association on Dec. 4.
The suit says residents shouldn't have been forced to move out of their apartments and into hotel rooms.
Gaines and others who gathered in the lobby of the University Centre Hotel said they were relieved to have more time to move their belongings.
Gaines, who has already received a voucher for $467, said she has had difficulty finding a two-bedroom apartment with the rent allowed by HUD.
"Everywhere I go they say that is not enough," Gaines said.
And while she and others have a short reprieve, they are aggravated at their circumstances and the fact that they have not yet received promised money to cover moving expenses.
HUD also had agreed to store residents' belongings until they had found new homes.
It is unclear when all families will be relocated.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at (352) 337-0327 or sikesj@gvillesun.com.

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