Deadline removed for senior living center residents to leave flooded building

By Leigh Frillici - Reporter

HOUSTON - There was a flurry of activity at 2100 Memorial on Friday. 

The Houston Housing Authority, which owns the building, says it’s too damaged to stay in after water from Hurricane Harvey flooded the lobby and basement area.

Throughout the day, volunteers swarmed the building, packing boxes for people, delivering food and moving furniture into UHauls for the residents of the Senior Living building.

Much needed deposit checks were given back -- welcome sight for so many people in this building who are living on fixed incomes. Some residents were packing up but had no idea where they were going to go.

“I've been calling, but it's hard to find a place near where I need to be,” resident Michael Lassiter said. “I'm a veteran and I go to the VA hospital three or four times a week.”

He is visiting four different apartments over the next two days but it’s hard finding another two bedroom apartment for the $925 monthly rent he was paying.

“To find a place comparable is really not doable,” Lassiter said. 

The building was filled with an army of volunteers from such organizations as Mud Army of United Methodist Church, Ecclesia Church, and Easter Seals.

HHA accepted the help of more than a dozen organizations, which offered to help move people and find homes for people in the areas they want to live at the price ranges they need.

“The city was amazing with dropping the red tape and letting volunteer organizations that would normally have to jump through hoop after hoop ... to do what they have to do,” said Patrick Ford, of Mud Army.

The activity follows an emergency meeting that was held Thursday afternoon at the senior living facility. 

The meeting was contentious, with residents yelling at officials from the Houston Housing Authority.

Residents complained of being offered apartments that were more expensive or in places they don't want to live.

The HHA said the building was so damaged that residents were given notice Monday that they had five days to leave. 

KPRC2 visited the complex Tuesday and saw firsthand some of the damage to the bottom floor of the building.

We are told the fire system is down, as well as the electrical and water systems. 

The building is filled with elderly and disabled people and veterans who say their apartments above the lobby are fine and they don't want to leave.

Nearly 100 residents showed up for the town hall-style meeting Thursday in the parking garage with the HHA. There was some good news -- the 2100 Memorial building will be repaired or rebuilt, but it will take months. So residents have to find alternate housing.  

The HHA also said it will work with residents to find them places to live and no one will be thrown out by Saturday, the former deadline.  

Some residents said they didn't like the new apartments. Others said they were too expensive.

Some had concerns about signing a lease with a new place, since they want to be able to come back when the building is ready.

"If I'm tied up in a new lease ... if this is a short-term thing, how's that going to help? That's the other thing. The rent there is going to be $200 more," one resident said.

"Many others have expressed their frustration that the places that they're calling, they're not getting good answers. Yesterday, we had 30 folks here who were helping people walk through that process," said Tory Gunsolley, CEO and president of the Houston Housing Authority.

The HHA said it will also pay for residents' moving expenses.

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