After meeting with the Tampa Tenants Union (TTU) last Sunday, residents at Holly Court Apartments in North Tampa are planning to protest against a mass eviction, as well as dirty drinking water and other structural issues there.

On Dec. 31, 2021, many of the residents at the property received eviction notices that said they have to move out by the end of January, with no explanation as to why. Now, they’re planning to demonstrate near the property on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. at Harvest Hope Park, across the street from the complex.

The meeting to discuss the evictions and plan the protest had to be held at Harvest Hope rather than on Holly Court property, because the management company, Palm Communities LLC,  has threatened to trespass anyone who’s not a tenant. The complex is surrounded by a tall black security gate and lined with cameras that are monitored 24-hours by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

At the meeting, tenants decided that they weren’t going to take the mass eviction lying down.

“We’re going to fight this all the way,” a tenant named Ernest Nelson told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “My neighbor is blind, where is he going to go? And I’m disabled, too, with nowhere else I can afford, we’re talking about $1,000 for a 400 square-foot apartment at some of these places.”

Nelson said he currently pays $650 for his one bedroom apartment at Holly Court. The 68-year-old veteran, who was the first to speak out about the evictions to Bay News 9, helped rally his neighbors to the meeting.

He and other residents have said that they estimate that around a third of the residents who once lived at the 33-unit complex have already left out of fear of having an eviction on their record. Some moved with family, others found new places to live.

Hillsborough County Court records show that six people have been evicted from Holly Court since November.

Some tenants have told Nelson and TTU that they’ve received strange phone calls from people saying they are with Palm Communities, and that the eviction notices weren’t meant for them, so they can stay at the property. But nothing has been confirmed in writing. The tenants think it might be a tactic to get people not to speak up and protest. Some tenants told TTU that they haven’t received an eviction notice at all, leading to confusion about what the owners plan to do with the property.

Palm Communities LLC has still not responded to CL’s questions about the mass eviction.

Members of TTU who are helping to organize the protest said that a lot of the residents who did receive eviction notices have nowhere to go, because of skyrocketing rents in the Tampa Bay area. They want to stay on the property, and they want the outstanding problems there to be fixed.

Nelson and another resident told CL that the tap water, which runs off of a well on the property, has dirt in it. Nelson said that he’s dealt with rusty plumbing, the windows are single-paned and not insulated and that most of his appliances are out of date. TTU said that residents complained about wires being exposed, and issues with faulty electrical wiring on the property.

Nelson hopes that the protest will help rally the community to take a look the issues going on at Holly Court, and also hopes that Hillsborough County leaders will take a closer look as well.

“It’s not right, we deserve a fair hearing about why we’re being evicted,” Nelson said. “If they want us out because the rent is going up, they should at least just say that.”

Source : Creative Loafing