Families living at Summit Avenue apartments struggling to find new housing

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Time is running out for dozens of people who live at the Summit Avenue apartments.

On Aug. 15, the City of Greensboro condemned 41 apartments after finding the units were non-compliant with city code. The city gave people 30 days to vacate the units.

A lot of the people who live there are refugees. Many do not speak English and have a hard time finding a job.

“The situation is not that good because we don’t have houses yet,” said Mpango Iruna, a refugee living at the Summit Avenue apartments who is worried he will not find a new home.

“We haven’t the house and people are trying to help us but we haven’t found the houses. But we don’t have enough time to look for a house,” he said.

He, and a number of other families, have searched, teamed up with the housing coalition and even turned to churches for help, but there has not been much luck.

“You go to the landlord to look for a house and you can call them but they don’t answer the phone,” Iruna said.

Pam Strader is the pastor at West Market Street United Methodist Church. Several families living at the apartments attend her church. On Labor Day, she picked them up hoping they could find a new place.

“The difficulty is that there is a shortage in Greensboro of four-bedroom apartments that are for rent that these families can afford,” Strader said.

She says many of the homes these families can afford are in worse shape than their current homes. The homes might also not be as convenient, as the families need things like bus stops and grocery stores. Some of the apartments also don’t have areas for their children to play safely.

“It’s a very difficult thing. And people want them to find choices, but the reality is, they’re not finding choices,” she said.

She says another challenge they are facing is that these families rely on each other for child care, transportation and support.

“It is a close-knit community and they are grieving about being separated,” she said.

So even though they are glad the city has stepped in to try and get them out of a bad living situation, they are running out of options.

“We need to add more time to look for a house. Because they did this so quick, it’s so quick to find a house,” Iruna said.

The biggest thing many people here are hoping for is that a landlord or an apartment owner steps up and offers temporary housing while they continue to search for a suitable place to live. They’re asking anyone who can help to contact the Greensboro Housing Coalition.