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Photo by Gabriel Pérez/KUT

85 families at affordable apartment complex told they must leave due to winter storm damage

Thursday, July 8, 2021 by Claire McInerny, KUT

More than 85 families at an affordable housing complex in Southeast Austin are being evicted this month after the management company told them it needs to do repairs caused by February’s winter storm.

Capstone Real Estate Services, which manages Rosemont at Oak Valley, a complex at 2800 Collins Creek Drive, informed the affected tenants Friday that they have until July 31 to leave their units.

“We have found that the extent of the damage experienced in your unit will unfortunately require that we terminate your lease and you to vacate the unit so we may make necessary repairs,” a letter to tenants said.

The tenants being forced out say the situation feels unfair and suspicious.

Kecia Prince is one of the residents and says when the letters were sent out Friday, they all gathered to talk about it. Some of the units, like hers, were heavily damaged from flooding during the storm, but others had mold and other issues that had been dragging for a longer time.

“A big portion of these people who are being asked to leave, they didn’t even have storm damage,” Prince said. “The stuff that is in need of repair were problems before the storm.”

Capstone did not respond to a request for an interview.

Prince says the complex has changed property managers many times in the last few years, which has led to repairs not being made.

Patrick Howard, CEO of the Housing Authority of Travis County, said Capstone was hired as the complex’s property manager in March and “went through proper protocols to ensure any previous repairs were completed thoroughly and successfully.” But some units that previously had been repaired still had high significant moisture readings after the storm, he said.

“The repairs needed will consist of tearing down dry wall and flooring. Plumbing repairs to broken and cracked pipes will also need to be completed which will leave some homes without running water or access to a lavatory,” Howard said in a statement Wednesday. “Once these repairs have been completed and units show no more signs of moisture, the build back process will then need to begin. Ultimately, it would not be safe for residents to stay residing in their units during these necessary repairs.”

Capstone’s letter says tenants will receive their security deposits in full and will not have to pay any lease termination fees. It also says tenants who are being evicted will be put on a priority wait list if they want to return after the repairs, but the company is not offering to house them or find them another unit in the meantime.

In a statement Wednesday, Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he is inviting the property owners, the Strategic Housing Finance Corporation, and Capstone representatives to address the full Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

“In Travis County, we prioritize maintaining safe and stable housing for all members of our community. We are meeting with residents from the Rosemont at Oak Valley apartment complex,” Brown in the statement. “We have discussed with our Travis County team and continue to explore options to ensure the more than 85 families facing termination notices will receive support and alternative housing options.”

Photo caption: A door hanger from the organization BASTA offering information on evictions is shown at an apartment unit in North Austin on Oct. 11. Tenants at an apartment complex in Southeast Austin say they have until July 31 to leave their units after the management company said it has to repair damages caused by February’s winter storm.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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