SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Shamika Simmons has spent the past few days working to assist the small number of residents left at Clearview Apartments located north of West Bay Street. The traditionally low income housing units are being demolished to make way for a new housing complex.
“We’re just here to assist you because we don’t want your belongings to be put on the curb,” Simmons told an elderly disabled man Tuesday morning.
Black Voters Matter has rented several Uhauls and storage units so families won’t lose their belongings.
Earlier this month families still living in the units were given eviction notices by the developer. It’s not clear why the notices were given. Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier who represents the 1st district where the Clearview is located, says there may have been some people who did not pay November rent because they were trying to save money to move. But a woman who lived at Clearview for 15 years disputed that, saying everyone was still paying rent as usual. Mayor Van Johnson says it’s his understanding the eviction notices were a form of notification to let residents know they had to be off the premises by December 31.
According to Lanier and Simmons there were four families and one disabled veteran left on Tuesday that needed assistance.
“This is heart wrenching, while people are home trying to decide what gift goes to whom, and wrapping gifts, we’re wrapping furnitures. It’s for real over here in Clearview and it is heart wrenching,” said Simmons.
Alderwoman Lanier says rents were capped at $700 per month and based on a resident’s income so some people paid between $300 to $600. But the problem has been finding affordable housing for people who need to leave Clearview.
“We have not done enough work to secure, build or provide housing for the poor based on the U-S census,” said Lanier. “There are a lot of issues here but the one today is just finding housing for the remaining residents here in Clearview.”
Tuesday morning, Lanier had posted a video showing belongings of a woman with a child that had been put out on the street on Monday.
Word of the incident angered Mayor Van Johnson. “I was disappointed, this wasn’t the deal with the developer,” Johnson said.
Johnson indicated he had conversations with represenatives of the development company and was told the situtation with the woman was a “squatting” situation and not related to the new development or to the eviction notices that had been sent to other Clearview residents.
“There was a child involved here and it’s the holiday season,” said the mayor. “I’ve asked the City Manager to investigate and report back to the council accordingly.”
The original deadline for Clearview residents to move was October 31 but after the city spoke to the development company, the new deadline of December 31 was announced.
Lanier says with the recent eviction notices it seems there was a “lot of miscommunication that was happening and meanwhile the clock was ticking.”
“And we’re here today with these Uhaul trucks trying to secure people’s belongings and find them someplace to go,” said Lanier.
Lanier thanked Black Lives Matter and the group Savannah Promise for assisting residents.