Some of the remaining residents of the Penn Plaza Apartments in East Liberty have formed a crisis committee, and are asking for more time, as the deadline for relocation nears.
About 30 units in the apartment complex remain occupied, and residents have until Feb. 28 to vacate.
Will Stribling is one of the remaining residents and is now a member of the crisis committee.
“A lot of people still haven’t found a place,” he said. “And we got about a month, then we are going to be out on the street. They ain’t budging or nothing. We just want to find a place, a reasonable place, we can afford to live at.”
Residents were given eviction notices over the summer with a 90-day deadline that was then extended, but Stribling said that was not enough time to find a new place to live. Plus, he said, affordability is an issue. Residents were given $800 before they moved, and $800 after providing proof of a move. Stribling said the initial stipend is not enough to cover moving costs.
Plus, Stribling said there is not enough affordable housing in or near East Liberty, and all newer developments that include affordable units either have long waiting lists or won’t be available by next month.
The crisis committee is working with Action United, a community organizing group.
“We are going to fight to make sure that no one becomes homeless in this process and that every resident facing displacement anywhere in the city be granted enough time to find housing in the neighborhood that they want,” said Bill Bartlett, western Pennsylvania director of Action United.
A second building, that is part of the Penn Plaza Apartment complex, is slated to come down in 2017. While there are vacant apartments there, remaining residents that must be out of the other building next month cannot move there.
The crisis committee is planning a protest in early February to draw attention to the situation.