LITTLE ROCK A deadline for residents to leave an apartment complex ordered closed this month over ongoing safety and maintenance issues has arrived, but some say they have no place to go.
In an order issued last Wednesday, Little Rock Environmental Court Judge Mark Leverett said Stonecrest Apartments, 9700 Baseline Road, should be boarded immediately at least until various violations of fire, maintenance, building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing codes were addressed.
On Friday, a number of residents were gathering possessions and clearing out units at the complex. They said they were told Friday was the last day before the boarding would be finished and that anyone who remained could face trespassing charges.
Some residents said they had already found new lodging, but others said they didn't know where they would go.
Shonda Blackwell, a former leasing agent at the complex who has lived there for a year-and-a-half with her two sons, ages 10 and 12, said the owner and city indicated they would help her find a new place, but the help never came.
"Where are we going to go?" Blackwell said Friday morning as she and her fiancé moved furniture from her second-floor unit. "Ain't nobody helping us do anything. We are homeless. We will go to the Salvation Army at 4 p.m. and if they don't have room, we'll be sleeping in the car tonight."
A city spokesman said the Housing and Neighborhood Programs was helping residents find new places to stay. A message left with that department was not immediately returned Friday.
Blackwell said she secured free storage for the family's possessions and furniture but couldn't afford a truck. They were moving the items to the street in the hopes of flagging down someone who would help in exchange for gas money, she said.
Blackwell said the complex suffers from numerous problems, ranging from plumbing issues to broken windows to electricity to the outdoor lighting that's been cut off for months, enabling crime in the area. She said she blames the owners for not addressing the problems.
In another building in the complex Friday morning, 20-year-old Ruben Gregory was moving out the last of his items from a unit he shared with his sister and mother.
Gregory said a church helped his family get a duplex on the west side of Little Rock, but he knew others who don't have their next residence secured.
"It's kind of messed up," he said.
Another resident who identified himself only as Maurice said residents had only nine days to find new lodging, which wasn't enough time to get it set up and move.
"They should have given us more notice," he said, noting many residents rely on Social Security checks that won't come until the first of the month. "It's been very difficult."
Maurice, a quality control instructor for a railroad company, said he will be staying at a residence set up through a church program.
He said he wasn't sure whether closing the property down was the right decision.
"I can't make that call," he said. "You see a few problems, but you see that anywhere."
City manager Bruce Moore said when the original court order was handed down that the closing is part of the city's "ongoing process to hold rental property owners accountable."
A progress hearing on the case is scheduled for Wednesday before Leverett, deputy city attorney Cliff Sward said.