Rents are going up at Redbank Village in South Portland.
The 500 apartments were originally built as affordable housing for working families.
Keith Ray, who lives there with his wife and daughter, found out that he and other tenants will see their rent go up $400 and have five days to sign a lease with Redbank’s new owner, California-based JRK Property Holdings.
“It’s almost getting to the point of like survival, rather than living,” Ray said.
In its letter to tenants, JRK Property Holdings called the rent increase “our exclusive and amazing renewal offer!” But tenants don’t see it that way, and if they don’t renew their lease by Sunday, the rent goes up another $90.
“They’re horrible,” said Holly Newcomb, whose daughter is a Redbank tenant. “It’s a horrible thing to do to people. They should think about how people are suffering already and stop making it worse.”
The head of JRK Property Holdings leasing office at Redbank declined to comment.
JRK Property Holdings has faced numerous complaints in the past. It paid $300,000 to settle an eviction moratorium lawsuit, and a class action lawsuit has been filed in California accusing JRK of illegal, excessive rent increases, late fees and fines.
The South Portland Housing Authority said the news is even worse for 60 Redbank families with housing vouchers. The rent increase and plans to make tenants pay for water and sewer makes Redbank unaffordable and no longer eligible for the federal housing voucher program.
“They chose to continue with their rent increases, which they’re allowed to do,” housing voucher program manager Nicole Bernier said.
One Redbank tenant, who asked to remain anonymous, said without the housing voucher, she has no choice but to try to find a new home for her and her children.
“The landlord can choose to terminate the lease, in which case the resident would receive a new voucher to locate a new unit that is affordable,” South Portland Housing Authority Housing Programs Director Leanna Bruce said.
But finding new homes for 60 or more families won’t be easy.
“You’re getting thrown out on the street because you can’t afford your rent,” Newcomb said. “But there’s nowhere else to rent, either.”