Windsor Court resident homeless after building closed
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(ABC 6 News) – One of the former residents at Windsor Court in Rochester is now homeless, as he’s been struggling to find new affordable housing.
Tenants were forced to leave their homes when the building closed August 31 after new management took over.
The new owners followed the law by giving tenants written notice one full rental period before they had to vacate, but one month was not enough time for everyone to find new living arrangements.
“This has been the most horrendous experience that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I mean in my life. I’m 59 years old,” said Rodney Butler, one of the former tenants of Windsor Court. He never imagined he would become homeless.
Butler was served a notice on July 31 to pay rent by the fifth of the month or face eviction.
“Soon as I read that paper I said, ‘oh, let me go pay my rent.’ I paid it on the first. About a week later, someone was telling me ‘did you read that paper good?’ We only have 30 days to live here,” said Butler.
What he didn’t realize at the time was that the notice also said he would be expected to vacate his apartment by the end of the month.
“The new owners was insensitive to the people that’s on a fixed income,” said Butler.
Butler’s only form of income is the social security payments he receives. Being forced to move has brought up a lot of unexpected costs for him.
“If you’re on a fixed income, how can you rent a truck, move your things and pay first and security deposit on a place? You can’t,” said Butler.
Although the owners wanted everyone out by the 31, they began renovations in the days before then, which residents say made it harder to move.
“They tore up the parking lot, so we couldn’t get no trucks in there, so we had to carry things all the way to the street just to move. We didn’t have a place for our garbage, they took the dumpsters away,” said Butler.
ABC 6 News reached out to the building’s owners, who provided a statement that said in part:
“We are people who are working to improve properties that have become distressed and problematic for the city as well as the neighborhood.”
Both the new owners and former residents shared stories of vandalism, failure to keep the premises clean and some tenants’ lack of consideration for their neighbors during the two years before new management took over.
“The washing machines were getting broken and everything. That was horrible. People were living down in the basement getting in the apartment building and urinating inside the dryers,” said Butler.
For a week, Butler has been sleeping on a bench in Soldiers Memorial Field Park.
Fortunately, on Wednesday he found temporary shelter at the Dorothy Day House and was given leads on more permanent housing from the Department of Human Services.
Some people are concerned that after renovations are completed, the rent will be much higher at Windsor Court than before, pricing out the old residents.
The owners say the buildings they renovate are still affordable. Other buildings they own in Rochester, such as the Parker and the Graham, have one bedroom apartments available around $825 to $875 per month.
This is in the range of what some tenants were paying at Windsor Court, but higher than some others.