Tenants Forced Out of Affordable Housing

Tenants at an apartment building in Williamsport have to find a new home.

The property is being sold and will no longer be used for affordable housing.

Those tenants, some who have disabilities, are having a tough time finding an affordable place to live.

Thelma Strahan has a tough time getting around. Her apartment on West Fourth Street in Williamsport is ideal for someone with her disabilities.

“It helps me by everything being close by. You walk out and you’re on the bus,” said Strahan.

A few weeks ago, Strahan and her neighbors were told they have to move out by mid-June, the eight-unit apartment building is being sold. STEP, Incorporated used grant money to buy the place and restore it in exchange for keeping rent prices low for 15 years.

“I just hate to leave it. I’m afraid when the day comes I’ll sit here and cry and not go,” added Strahan.

Now that those 15 years are up, STEP, Inc. is stepping down from owning the apartment building. STEP tried to find an organization that provides affordable housing to take over the place, but they just could not find one, said the agency’s president Terry Roller.

“We’ve probably invested over $700,000 in agency resources that could be used elsewhere, but it did provide affordable housing for 15 years,” added Roller.

Yvonne Thomas is in the same boat, looking through the classifieds for a new place to rent. Affordable housing is scarce in the Williamsport area and in order to take her dog Phoebe with her, Thomas’ rent somewhere else might be double what she pays now.

“It’s very, very hard to find, I’ve looked at a lot, made a lot of phone calls,” said Thomas.

The future owner of the apartment building in Williamsport’s historic district said he will rent the apartments to the general public at between $800 and $1,000 per month. That is more than double what tenants pay now.