VALLEJO (KPIX) – Tenants at two apartment complexes in Vallejo just got slapped with a huge rent increase that could turn many of them out onto the street.
The Strawberry Hill and Holiday Garden apartments in Vallejo were both purchased by a San Francisco property company called The Reliant Group. The new owners have begun refurbishing Strawberry Hill in hopes it will be attractive to workers from the Kaiser hospital across the street.
But what to do about the people already living here?
“They did not call us…no communication,” said tenant Evangeline Haith. “They just stick the paper in front of my door.”
That “paper” was a notice that, as of July 14, rents were going up — way up. In some cases, they are double what tenants have been paying.
For example, rent for a two-bedroom unit will go from $935 per month to $1,850.
Most of the tenants, many of them are elderly say they can’t begin to afford that, and they are starting to panic.
“It’s too bad for us…old people,” said tenant Evilia Altres. “I live alone, who will help me…where will I go?”
“Our wages don’t go up but everything else goes up, and it makes us actually sad and depressed, you know?” said tenant Gary Medoza, his voice cracking.
Mayor Bob Sampayan is angry about the rent increases, especially since Reliant often touts its commitment to affordable housing. But the company says Strawberry Hill is considered “workforce housing” and says it will try to find room for some of the tenants in other complexes in the East Bay.
However, for most of the tenants Strawberry Hill and Holiday Garden apartments, this is home and community, and it will be traumatic to have to pack up and leave.
“I find this absolutely appalling,” Sampayan said. “It may be within the law. People have told me, yeah, they are within their rights to do this. But, do you have any moral values is my question to them.”
Mayor Sampayan says he met with Reliant Monday afternoon and they are now promising to slow the process down, hold community meetings and offer some assistance to people having to relocate. But he says there was no indication that rents would be decreased.
KPIX tried to contact Reliant Group Management Monday, but messages to their company offices in San Francisco went unanswered and the leasing officer at the apartment complex refused to comment.