Dozens of residents, including recovering drug addicts, elderly citizens, and people with disabilities, are facing homelessness after being issued 29-day eviction notices on their Cooks Hill boarding house.
The residents were on Monday notified by the owner that the Parkway Avenue building had to be vacated by July 5, giving them four weeks notice as required by their boarding house rental agreements.
The property was bought last year by Aspen Group, which says the building is old, being completed in 1954, and in need of major repairs.
"The only way this can be done safely is for the tenants to vacate the premises while the works take place," Aspen said in a statement.
"Tenants have been aware of Aspen's plans since the development proposal notification went public on the 7th January 2021, a notice was displayed at the property for several weeks after this date.
On this issue:
"Aspen acknowledges that this may be a stressful time for tenants.
"A list of alternative accommodation options has been provided to tenants and many tenants have already inspected these alternative facilities.
"Aspen will continue to work in conjunction with Street Property Newcastle, our property agent, to assist tenants in finding suitable accommodation in the area."
But tenant Rodney Bowen said there had been no consultation nor effort to help residents find somewhere to live.
"We received a letter under the door," he said. "They didn't even have the fortitude to call a house meeting and tell us in person."
Mr Bowen said he found out about the plans when a fellow resident went sniffing and found a development application, after becoming suspicious that repairs weren't being completed and a for-lease sign taken down.
The property is at the lower end of the market, with tenants paying less than $200 a week. Mr Bowen said the fierce housing market meant residents could be homeless in the middle of winter.
"Most of the tenants either either on elderly pensions or disability pensions or are students such as myself," Mr Bowen said. "A couple are over 70.
"We live here as most of us cannot afford higher rent than that which we already pay.
"Some have lived here more than 10 years. They're devastated."
Barry Weston, 74, has lived in the boarding house on and off since 1990, but continuously since 2002. He said he was sad he had to leave.
"I've been there so long it's home to me," he said. "There's good people here, we're like a big family. There's always someone to talk to."
Mr Bowen has lived in the property for two years. He arrived after being homeless and suffering an addiction to methamphetamine. He said living in the property had helped him sort out his life.
"I feel like I was finally able to get my life back on track," he said. "I had a roof over my head. Thanks to not-for-profits I had food in my belly. I was surviving. I was in a position I could maintain.
"But now I'm talking to my uni lecturer about deferring a trimester. My head space is not in the right place to give my studies the attention they deserve."
He said the experience this week had triggered some issues from his past.
"It's that possibility I'll end up on the street again," he said. "It's very disconcerting."
Aspen said upon completion, the building will have 50 self-contained apartments offered at "rents that are near the cheapest available in Newcastle for similar boarding house units".
IN THE NEWS:
- Stockton resident Stacey Klimovitch shot dead after answering her front door in Stockton
- Manhunt underway after a woman, 61, shot dead answering her front door in Queen St
- Inside the Kingsley, Newcastle's newest 5-star luxury hotel
- Incoming University of Newcastle chancellor Mark Vaile fully supportive of institution's sustainability goals
- Podcast: The mouse plague explained
- Newcastle builder fined for leaving homeowners 'vulnerable' and with no protection due to lack of home warranty insurance
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: