Lake Arbor Residents Get Eviction Deadline Extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – “Nobody signed up for this. We are supposed to be at work,” says Anthony Caldwell. Instead, Caldwell was at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, working to find new housing for his family.

He, and hundreds of other people, are being forced to leave the Lake Arbor apartments in west Charlotte. Tuesday, he learned he will get two more weeks to find a new home. He says, “Worst case scenario is a motel. But we have two dogs, two teenage boys, that… it’s not gonna work.”

The Lake Arbor owner, who at least one city councilman has described as a slumlord, is supposedly going to rehabilitate the 267 apartments, but that has been promised before. The owner was not in court today, but sent a representative instead. “They’ve been taking our hard earned money for two years and we haven’t gotten any of the commodities we were promised in the brochure,” says Caldwell.

What they have gotten is mold. Rats. And broken air and heating units. Groups like Action NC work to make sure tenants know their rights and make sure the community knows this is not a unique problem. Organizer Jessica Morena says, “we’ve been organizing at Lake Arbor for almost two years now. Making sure that people know the eviction process and that they don’t get taken advantage of.”

The county has partnered with non-profits to help people. Tuesday, Legal Aid attorneys were in court to help Lake Arbor residents navigate the process. “Eviction cases are generally scary. A lot of the times, the tenants have never been to court. They’re not sure of what any of the consequences will be,” says Legal Aid staff attorney O’Shauna Hunter.

Losing an affordable home, not only scary, but also more complicated here, in this city. Hunter says, “There’s a housing crisis in Charlotte, so it’s very difficult.”

The city is working to update a housing ordinance. Under the change, property owners would be fined $100 a day, starting the day after they are found to be in violation. So far, no vote on that. People and businesses in Charlotte have donated about $270,000 to the United Way to help Lake Arbor residents.