GALLIPOLIS — Residents at Jackson Estates at 52 Westwood Drive — near Jackson Pike in Gallipolis — have been informed they must vacate their rented homes by Sept. 4.
According to a letter provided to the Daily Tribune by Jackson Estates residents, because of “significant damage due to rain, wind and flooding,” the apartment complex will be closing.
“Mason Enterprises Ltd., the owner of the property, and Hayes-Gibson International Inc., the property management company, have determined that the property is no longer able to continue operations. Unfortunately, the property does not generate sufficient income to cover maintenance and other carry costs of operation and the owner simply does not have the resources necessary to make the required capital improvements and repairs,” the letter said.
Nearly 40 units will be vacated and their tenants were informed to make alternate housing arrangements and “vacate the property” by Sept. 4 after being handed a letter dated Aug. 3, 2015.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Rural housing loan program finances Jackson Estates. According to the letter, Mason Enterprises and Hayes-Gibson International are attempting to relocate the tenants to other similarly financed properties so the tenants may continue receiving rental assistance.
The letter further states that individuals displaced by natural disasters can receive a “letter of priority entitlement” from Rural Development. The LOPE is to be used within 120 days and is to allow individuals to be placed on the top of waiting lists for other Rural Development projects within the county.
Tenants last week approached Gallia County Administrator Karen Sprague with concerns over the closing. According to information she had gathered in her attempts to counsel the tenants, she said Honeysuckle Hills in Bidwell is the only other similarly financed USDA-involved facility in Gallia County. According to her communications with Gallia Metropolitan Housing Authority, the facility is full.
Tenants were advised to contact Southeastern Ohio Legal Services in Athens County. According to senior staff attorney Peggy Lee, the organization is looking into the matter.
“Some of us can’t move out of the area. We have legal obligations here, like visitations. I raise three of my grandchildren here,” said Evelyn Sears, a Jackson Estates tenant.
A few of the tenants allege the properties have not been properly maintained throughout the years. Ceilings have allegedly caved in on tenants and power flips on and off because of decayed wiring, they said. Some tenants said water dripping through light fixtures was somewhat of a common occurrence. One woman alleges she had been handed a tarp to keep water from coming into her apartment when a maintenance request was placed, but the roof was never fixed. Many of the tenants say the water from floods of recent weeks had not come into their homes.
Door frames have shifted with the foundation of some of the buildings, leaving three-inch gaps in some corners and allowing for sight into some of the apartments.
Bethany Boggess, a Jackson Estates tenant, noted her “roof” fell into her apartment and she called the American Red Cross for assistance because of frustration with the facility’s staff. She said the American Red Cross labeled the damage done to her ceiling as due to poor maintenance.
“The reality of it all is we have to stay here because we have nowhere else to go. There are no empty apartments or houses (locally). Thirty days is not enough time for all these people to find an apartment. And we’re all willing to stay with it like it is, even if we know our ceiling is going to fall in because where else are we going to go?” Tina Cooper, a tenant, said. “There are people that still have to buy their kids school clothes and supplies and we have to leave at this time?”
Mason Enterprises and Jackson Estates management staff did not return calls as of press time Monday. Kathleen Mason, a company representative, in the letter to tenants said, “We sincerely regret the circumstances and will do what we can to assist you during the relocation process.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.