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Rent increase forces many seniors to move out

The plan was to stay at the apartment complex for the rest of their lives. Dottie Fairchild and Dwayne Ripley have to move after their rent doubled in price.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Dottie Fairchild has lived in the same apartment for 16 years. The 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit at British Lake Village has served her well. The Greensboro complex is centrally located and has almost everything Fairchild needed.

“I like living here, until three months ago,” Fairchild said.

In March, the new management company notified tenants it would be renovating the property and increasing the rent. Fairchild has been paying around $500, her new rent will be more than $1,000. Tenants moving have until May 31, to notify management whether they plan to stay or find a new place to live.

“I have never missed a payment in 16 years and now I’m being forced to leave,” Fairchild said.

Tenants at a sister property, New Garden Manor, were given the same notice. The decision to renovate the apartments and increase the rent impacts hundreds of people.

“I’ve been searching and searching and searching (for an apartment) for quite a while,” Fairchild said.

Residents at New Garden Manor were recently given a temporary reprieve and can stay for a few more months before the rent increase. The same reprieve did not come for residents at British Lake Village which meant tenants like 71-year-old Dwayne Ripley have been frantically looking for a place to live.

“I’m a Christian, so I shouldn’t be scared, but I’m scared,” Ripley said.

The past three months have been difficult for Ripley. He suffers from COPD and told WFMY News 2 that the stress of this has adversely impacted his health.

“What this is all about it is oppressing the poor and making it hard on them,” Ripley said.

For many residents like Fairchild and Ripley, who are both on a fixed income, the rent jump is simply too expensive for them to pay. The problem is finding affordable housing in a rental market that is saturated and seeing rent increases across the board.

“There is no quick fix, we did not get here easily, and we are not getting out quickly,” Greensboro City Councilman Hugh Holston said.

The councilman blames part of the problem on a shortage of new family homes in the Triad. The pandemic slowed the development of new homes, so the inventory is low. Many people that are in the market to buy are having to rent. The trickle-down effect is a shortage of rental properties. With demand so high, landlords can charge more in rent.

"I have never prayed so much in my life,” Ripley said.

The Greensboro Housing Coalition has been working with tenants at both complexes to try and find a new place to live. Director Josie Williams said she was thrilled when the management company gave tenants at New Garden a few extra months to find a place before increasing the rent. She is now asking management to do the same for those living at British Lake Village.

“We want the owners to extend the deadline. If (they) don’t extend it, you will have 70, 65, 80-year-old folks homeless for the first time,” Williams said.

A representative for the management company told WFMY News 2 that the owner wanted to improve the properties with new amenities and provide tenants with a nicer place to stay. He said he understands the impact on some residents which is why they were given a three-month notice. He told WFMY News 2 that about 60% of the people living at British Lake are planning to stay.

Ripley and Fairchild will not be staying. Both have found new places to live in the past few days. The new apartments are smaller and will cost a couple of hundred dollars more but not nearly as much as they would have to pay if they stayed.

Ripley is set to move out on Wednesday when his new unit becomes available, Fairchild moved out late last week.

WFMY News 2 has learned the management company plans to meet with folks from the Greensboro Housing Coalition on Tuesday to see if anything can be done for the few people that were unable to find a place to move into.  

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