New Orleans, LA – Eighteen Woodlands families facing homelessness will hold a press conference at 9 a.m. on their eviction date, Thursday, January 4, to ask Soundra Johnson-Temple of Baton Rouge, owner of Johnson Properties Group, LLC, for more time to find housing. The press conference will be at the Woodlands apartment complex (3010 Sandra Dr.) in Algiers.
Johnson Properties Group claims it needs to empty the 350-unit complex for renovations because of liability concerns. However, many of the units are immaculate – they have already been renovated by tenants hired by Common Ground to do the work. Common Ground has also received unconfirmed reports that Johnson Properties Groups, LLC has begun moving its own workers into the complex, and making private deals with a few residents to remain and work on the project.
Eighteen families are facing homelessness as a result of a November 29, 2006 agreement with Johnson Properties Group that gave over 100 Woodlands families just over a month to find new homes. Since the brief stay of eviction, over 100 families have been working seven days a week with Common Ground’s Woodlands Housing Assistance Team in search of new affordable housing. These families face a market where rents have increased between 70 and 300 percent since Katrina, providing few options for these residents. Many families have left their homes to sleep on the floors of friends or family members homes. Eighteen of the families still have no prospects.
Most of the families looking for housing include young children, and many have a member who is disabled. The majority have women as the head of household, some of whom are elderly and caring for grandchildren. Most have a source of income, yet cannot afford the rising cost of living in New Orleans. Only a few have a place to go or families to stay with if they are evicted. The majority are faced with the bleak option of the city’s over-crowded shelters.
In light of these hardships, the families will appeal to Soundra Johnson Temple and the Johnson Properties Group, LLC and the court of public opinion for more time so they may have a reasonable transition.
They will ask that when renovations begin, they be allowed to move to another part of the complex not being worked on, if they cannot remain in t heir own apartments, until they locate another place to live.
The evictions are a direct result of Johnson Properties Group’s purchase of the complex in early November. Previously the families had held valid and current leases with Common Ground, who was managing the property through an agreement with the original owner, Anthony Reginelli. After the sale Johnson Properties Group, LLC refused to honor the leases with Woodlands residents, and issued eviction notices.
Soundra Johnson Temple, owner of Johnson Properties Group, LLC, also owns and operates Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options and is a prominent citizen of Baton Rouge.
Contact: Malik Rahim, Co-Founder, 504-376-1967
Soleil Rodrigue, Legal Coordinator, 504-717-7324