Low-income apartment complex residents face eviction

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- It’s a surprise many weren't looking forward to.

"I was shocked," said Jose Leyva, Stardust Apartments resident.

"I wasn't prepared for that," said Jimmy, Stardust Apartments resident.

"Nobody expected this," said Sabrina Espino, Stardust Apartments resident.

In early November, more than 35 families living at the Stardust Apartments received a letter telling them they had approximately 30 days to move out.

The building was sold to a California company called ‘Conventus Real Estate, with the residents' month-to-month rental agreement coming to an end.

"Everybody got out of their houses. People were crying, people were yelling," said Espino.

Michael Kline has been battling cancer since 2011. When the news broke, he wasn't concerned about his own situation.

"My big concern is for my friend Billie," said Kline, Stardust Apartments resident.

Wilma Cuellar, who goes by the name of Billie, is blind in her left eye and barely can see in her right. She says she can't spend more than $700 on rent and that's why she has been living at the complex for the last 14 years.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just scared I'm going to be thrown out in the cold," said Billie.

That is the concern many face. The news was even more shocking for Espino, who says she met with the new owners and everything seemed to be fine.

"I specifically asked them, 'Are we going to get kicked out?' They said no," said Espino.

"The landlord pretty much lied to us. He told me there was new management and they were going to fix up the place and we had nothing to worry about," said Leyva.

The new owner, Conventus Real Estate, wasn't available for comment for this story.

Pat Cashell with Volunteers of America says the non-profit and the City of Reno will try to help residents with the next step. This eviction highlights a big problem in the Reno-Sparks region, the lack of available affordable housing.

"It's kind of difficult to pack up and get out really quick," said Marie Miley, Stardust Apartments resident.

"There is nothing out here for lower income tenants," said Kline.

Mishon Hurst is the Deputy Executive Director with the Reno Housing Authority. Hurst says right now they have 3,000 families on the waiting list depending on the market, which can be year-and-a-half wait.

"We have seen the need for affordable housing. Not only the Reno Housing Authority, there are other developers out there that are building affordable units. Unfortunately they are not able to build overnight," said Hurst.

And that's the reality this region faces; as the economy grows, supply can't keep up with demand.