Tampa apartment residents fight eviction, say black mold is just part of poor living conditions | Tampa
Tenants of Holly Court apartments in North Tampa protested an ongoing mass eviction and yesterday called for serious infrastructure issues to be addressed at the complex.
On December 31, many tenants received 30-day eviction notices saying they had to move out by the end of January. Some have already fled the property for fear of an eviction on their record, but some tenants have chosen to stay and fight.
On Thursday evening, around 30 people gathered to protest against the evictions. Some were residents of Holly Court, including children, and others were part of the Tampa Tenants Union, which stands with residents to demand that the owners of the complex make immediate changes. Several new local outlets were also on site.
The tenants demanded to stay in the complex.
“I’m not going anywhere, are you?” asked Ernest Nelson of his fellow citizens; he has been one of the most vocal tenants about evictions. His question received a round of cheers and people confirmed that they weren’t going anywhere. At Holly Court, rent is currently $650 for a one-bedroom apartment. With rents soaring 24% across the Bay Area last year, there’s nowhere else in Tampa they can afford.
The tenants pointed out that the property managers, Palm Communities LLC, did not mention the moving costs, or guarantee that the tenants would have their security deposit returned. They claimed the company said it would shut off the water on Jan. 31 whether or not people leave the property.
Tenants have also asked the company to fix the dirty well water used by the property, which has been contaminated with dirt for months. Tenants are required to purchase bottled water. They also pointed to other structural issues like electrical problems, exposed electrical wiring in homes with children, and mold.
A tenant named Shakeila Broughton took CL photographer Dave Decker to her apartment to take pictures. Inside, dangerous black mold covered several surfaces in the apartment, including where she keeps groceries for her children. A drawer in the kitchen had collapsed and her stove had a completely broken handle. Its base molding was split in two. She told Decker there had been no response to her service requests from the property management company.
The company has been unfavorable to the media and tenants’ union organizers entering the property. The compound is surrounded by a black gate and lined with cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Some residents said the place looked like a prison.
A tenant who spoke said the protest was great, but they needed people to put pressure on local authorities to hold the palm communities accountable and give them a chance to stay housed.
“Let them know they can’t push us away like this,” she said.