Serena McIntyre arrived home from work the afternoon of Oct. 17 and found a folded piece of paper taped to her door. It informed her that her apartment complex had been sold, and, because the new owner was renovating and no longer wanted to house tenants on rental assistance, she and her three children needed to move within about two months.
“It was already going to be hard enough to figure out Christmas,” McIntyre, 37, said. The single mother and her children, one of whom is deaf, were ordered to leave by Dec. 31.
McIntyre’s family is one of at least 16 low-income households at an apartment complex in Portland that has been told to move out during the coming holiday season, in what may be one of the biggest mass evictions in Maine’s largest city in recent years. A new owner plans to improve the eight-building property at 240 Harvard St. and cited “business and economic reasons” for ending their tenancy, according to several eviction notices.
The tenants now face the challenge of finding an inexpensive place to live in a city with a shortage of affordable options, according to the Portland Housing Authority, which administers rental assistance to the 16 households now facing eviction.
The notices also said the new owner, 240 Harvard Street LLC, had decided “not to participate in the Section 8 program.” Known formally as the Housing Choice Voucher program, it helps tenants like McIntyre cover a portion of their rent with federal dollars.
“It definitely feels noteworthy because of the scale,” said Pine Tree Legal Assistance Attorney Katie McGovern, of the pending evictions. Three of the tenants reached out to the legal aid organization after receiving eviction notices. One of them has lived in the complex for more than 20 years, McGovern said.
A lawyer for the company that bought the 61-unit apartment complex last month, 240 Harvard Street LLC, did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment on Monday. The property management company that took over maintenance of the complex, CRM Apartments, deferred comment to their corporate headquarters, Corridor Ventures, in Connecticut. It did not return a call for comment.
It’s not clear if the new owner has only handed eviction notices to voucher-holding tenants, said McGovern, who is investigating the situation.
A tenant who lives there, Larissa McGill, told the Bangor Daily News that one of her neighbors is being evicted and doesn’t use a voucher to pay her rent. She showed a reporter a picture of the eviction notice, which does not mention the Section 8 program.
Another tenant, Nick Heilner, has not been ordered to leave. He does not receive any public assistance to pay rent at his one-bedroom unit, which costs $1,000 a month, he said.