By Julia Lankisch, Staff Writer
Residents of the Victoria Square apartment complex, were sent eviction notices in late July after an ownership transfer.
Sunset Property Solutions (SPS), the new developer, informed the occupants of 232 units they have until the end of September to leave their apartments and find new ones.
For many of the residents, there is no other option. The complex primarily houses people with low monthly incomes, and many other available apartments in Newport that ask similar rent have long waitlists for residency.
“I’m scared not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring, I was secure here. I had a roof over my head. Now, I don’t know,” Rick McGee, a resident, said.
Some of the Victoria Square tenants who have lived in Newport for long periods are upset to leave the spaces behind. Some of the residents have lived in Victoria Square for more than 50 years.
The property is located directly on the riverfront and connects right to a bus line, which makes it a desirable area for developers. It is also close to Newport on the Levee and the Ovation pavilion, a tourist destination.
Longtime residents of the area describe the community as lively and strong.
Hayley Powell, housing coordinator for the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), strives to help the people who are being evicted organize to discuss further courses of action. She is speaking with tenants who need legal or organizational questions answered, and she works with the Cincinnati Housing Justice Coalition to provide resources to everyone affected.
“The residents are not under the assumption that the sale can be reversed. They just want to meet with [SPS] to find a solution that gives them more time,” Powell said.
The tenants hope that the city of Newport will pressure SPS to extend the deadline for moving out and finding a new place to live, considering the relocating will likely be difficult. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Newport, like much of the rest of the country, is experiencing a rent and housing crisis. Recent reports from the 2022 Demographia International Housing Affordability Index, indicate Cincinnati lags some major cities in affordable housing.
For now, the city of Newport has been fielding requests from tenants despite the possible involvement of the NAACP. The city commented that they are “closely monitoring” the situation of the Victoria Square residents, and that they have set up a hotline for people who need housing to call.
“I’ve lived down here most of my life and I actually grew up in the demolished housing projects across the street. That is supposedly a sign of progress– but we’re here to discuss the human element of things,” Long-time resident George Campbell said.
The organizers say that the best way to help, for people who want to get involved, is to lodge public complaints with the city to demand affordable housing and assistance, or to donate to the residents’ GoFundMe, which is organized by Cathaine Campbell. The GoFundMe is designed to assist with moving costs and more. The GoFundMe states that the residents are working with the Brighton Center to disperse funds.