Merced County Times Newspaper
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Displaced tenants wonder what to do next

It’s the housing crisis combined with the flood.’

 

Residents of an apartment complex affected by the recent flood are speaking out after being forced from their homes.

People who live on the first floor of the Woodbridge Apartments on Highway 59 near Olive Avenue were told Wednesday that they had two days to move all their belongings out of their units in order to make way for repairs. The residents were told they would have to find another place to live for approximately six months, after which they would have to reapply for their units.

“They were like, you gotta move now,” said Cameron Carter, who has lived in the complex with his wife Mercedes and two kids for about 10 years. “They said [the City of Merced] might put the red tape over our doors any day.”

On Friday afternoon they loaded boxes and furniture into U-Haul vans in the parking lot, expressing worry over where they would go and confusion over the lack of communication from Buckingham Property Management, the firm that runs the complex.

“We’re both on the lease and we have two little ones. I’m trying to figure out, where are we going to stay?” Mercedes said. “You don’t give us a place to stay and nobody’s paying.”

The apartments affected are rent-controlled, and are meant for low-income families. Woodbridge is not providing relocation assistance, but they are returning a $100 deposit. One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she would be forced to move to Arizona to stay with her family there. She would have to leave two of her kids behind with her ex-boyfriend, as they are currently in school here.

“It’s the housing crisis combined with the flood. There’s people that have great jobs in town and they can’t get a place right now,” said Jayshan Wright, the woman’s ex-boyfriend. “So what are you going to do with people who don’t make that much money?”

They were given no written notice about the repairs. Instead, the complex manager called them on the phone on Wednesday and said they would have to be moved out by 5 p.m. on Friday. In a conversation that day, complex manager Erica Sanchez confirmed that no paperwork was provided to the tenants prior to their Friday deadline.

“You would think they would give you at least a 30-day notice, how they usually do,” said Alex Aviles, who lives at the complex with his girlfriend Evelyn. Both of their cars were totaled by the flooding, and now they are being forced to move back in with their parents until they find another place to stay.

According to Sanchez, a survey team from an insurance company came in and determined that there was water damage in the walls, prompting the decision to move people out. According to residents, however, floodwater barely entered their units. They pointed to where water pooled in the entryway near the front door, but said that’s as far as it got.

It’s not the same at other apartments in the area. At Willowbrook, just a stone’s throw away from Woodbridge in the direction of Bear Creek, water in some units was knee high according to the assistant manager there. Willowbrook is making repairs, but no one is being kicked out of their apartments.

Buckingham has an extensive portfolio of property throughout California and is headquartered in Clovis. The company also manages Gateway Terrace, a complex in south Merced. Representatives from the company did not return a request for clarification before the Times press deadline this week.

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