LaBricia Scyrus has lived on public assistance at the Victory Apartments in the Fourth Ward area for over three years. Thanks to the Houston Housing Authority, the terms of her rent were such that the HHA actually paid her a buck a month. But in April, she says, she was given a
notice of eviction "notice of termination of tenancy" -- because she owed the HHA a buck.
Scyrus said she didn't get a notice that her rent had changed, and she said no one at Orion Real Estate Services, which manages the Victory Apartments, would explain to her why all of a sudden she was being
evicted put on notice for non-payment of four quarters. (Unlike an eviction notice, which is a court order, a notice of termination is issued by management companies and gives occupants 14 days to dispute the matter).
"They sent her a notice on February 28, letting her know that, effective April 1, her rent would actually be $1 a month," Dennis Spellman of the HHA told Hair Balls. When the management company never got the dollar, Spellman says, they automatically issued an
eviction notice notice of termination, which is standard procedure. (A rent increase from getting paid a dollar each month to paying a dollar: Percentagewise, that's...what? Infinity?)
Not so, says Scyrus, a student in North Harris County Community College's nursing program. She says she placed two calls to manager Rick Johnson, who called her back once to say he'd look into things...but, she says, he never followed up.
Things seemed to change once Scyrus notified community advocate Lenwood Johnson, who issued a press release about Scyrus's weird situation; (Lenwood seemed to jump the gun and characterize the notice as an official eviction). When we called Scyrus, she said she already heard from Channel 13 reporter (we suspect it was that sneaky Miya Shay!) who had called one of the managers, only to be told that, no, Scyrus wasn't going to be evicted.
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But according to Spellman, "[Johnson] said she came in and he personally spoke with her and didn't have the file in his office, but was willing to get...the file and meet with her. And then the next thing you know, we were getting media calls. Either way, it's all been worked out." (Spellman said the rent change has been pushed back to July).
We certainly hope that's true. Scyrus told us she still hasn't received a call or any paperwork from the management office indicating that she won't be
evicted put on notice.
We had hoped someone from the management company could explain the situation to us. We tried today to reach Magdeline Hicks, whose name was listed in the press release, only to be told she wasn't available.
Mistakes happen; Orion manages a lot of apartment complexes in Houston. It's understandable that sometimes there might be miscommunication between management and tenants. It just would have been nice if we heard directly from Orion how this happened. But hey -- some people just aren't good at returning phone calls.