by Sheila Payne, Alachua County Labor Coalition
The Alachua County Labor Coalition has been speaking with residents at Pine Ridge in Gainesville to see if their housing situation is stable. The rent has not increased yet, and the assumption by residents is that until major renovations are done to the units, rent will stay the same.
Only one resident has left, previously planned, to move into a house.
A construction contractor flew out from Texas again this week to estimate the costs of renovations to each apartment. Residents who need little work done will be allowed, if they desire, to remain in units while renovations are going on. Or residents can stay with family or friends and belongings will be put into PODS.
Residents will need to fill out new applications, but the application fee will be rebated. Background checks will be limited to crimes such as arson or violent felonies.
ACLC met with County Social Services this week. They are still in contact with residents. They are waiting to process applications until residents can specify if they need help with moving costs or assistance with rent at Pine Ridge.
ACLC is meeting with Central Florida Community Action Agency, at their request, to see what assistance they can provide to the Pine Ridge Community. We are trying to get the Gainesville Housing Authority to go out to Pine Ridge to help residents apply for housing vouchers. Many have never applied and are low wage or on fixed incomes, and the rents everywhere in Alachua County are rising faster than their pay. Most who work, worked through Covid, so they are ineligible for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program; though many lost hours, they still do not qualify.
With schools starting up next week, Ms. Geneva and others are busily getting the Community Center ready for tutoring and other services. They could still use some backpacks and food for the children.
ACLC has been pursuing the landlord who put a stop to the library resource bus, the food giveaway truck, and the UF Health van parking at the Community Center. But this week, with Covid rates increasing, the Pine Ridge Community Center is limiting capacity, so we will pause that pursuit.
We continue to be in contact with Key City Capital, County Social Services, and other agencies who are involved in Pine Ridge.
We also stay in touch with Unitarians and Greenhouse Church, who have had long contact with Pine Ridge. Without the support of this community rising up to say, “No more evictions!” none of this would have been possible.
For now, the Pine Ridge community is staying together. We will remain vigilant.