evictions

Casper issues eviction notice for Star Apartments

2013-04-12T07:00:00Z 2013-11-04T19:14:01Z Casper issues eviction notice for Star ApartmentsBy KELLY BYER Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Thirty-five adults and five children at the Star Apartments have until May 9 to find a new home.

The city posted eviction notices on apartment doors Tuesday after several months of working with the owners, who decided to sell the building rather than pay to update the deteriorated electrical system, said Casper Fire-EMS Division Chief Mark Harshman.

Although most residents are just beginning their search, many say the outlook is bleak.

“Right now I don’t think anybody can help me,” said Rose Tsosie. “They’re helping everybody else in town with the same problem as me.”

Tsosie, who moved to Casper from New Mexico for welding work last year, said all the places she’s tried have had waiting lists. Her first priority has been finding a storage unit, and she’s keeping watch for rent signs while running errands.

She was carrying a plunger to unclog her backed-up bathtub Thursday, but said that was the first time she’s had any issues at the complex. The place was a rare find compared to more pricey lodging, and Tsosie said she and her husband may have to return to New Mexico if they don’t find housing.

“The rent’s cheap,” she said. “Everything’s included. So I don’t know what I’m going to do now, where I’m going to go, if I can find anything with low rent like this.”

With management closing the Skyler Inn motel, Casper’s social services are already spread thin. The 1st Interstate Inn motel is also in jeopardy of closing, and the Natrona County Board of Health will decide whether to revoke its license for alleged health and safety violations next month.

Brenda Eickhoff-Johnson, executive director of Community Action Partnership, said the agency has been working to relocate residents from a dozen Skyler Inn units and expects to use some of the $25,000 in 1-cent sales tax funds allocated this winter for emergency shelter.

“The housing market was really tight to begin with,” she said. “We’ve been working really closely with Interfaith, and they’ve done a great job of pulling together lists of units that were available.”

So far, Eickhoff-Johnson said they’ve found about eight places for former Skyler Inn residents. She expects Star Apartment residents to need more financial assistance, but the available money will depend on how much motel residents use.

Community Action Partnership may help with a security deposit, first month’s rent, or both, depending on a family’s need. Eickhoff-Johnson said the agency is trying to tap into local sources and federal grants to provide for the growing number of displaced people, but it is a lot to ask at one time.

“Funding is going to be an issue,” she said.

Not everyone living in the Star Apartments qualifies for social services, though, because not all are low-income. Add a criminal history or bad credit and there are very few options.

“There’s none,” Craig Hartwig said. “None that we can afford or none that we can get into because of a felony charge or bad credit.”

Hartwig, who was convicted for a felony and served at the Community Alternatives of Casper work-release program, said his wages at Casper’s Good Cooking restaurant disqualify him from low-income designation. He has a difficult time finding housing that’s affordable or accepting of convicted felons, so he’s lived at the Star Apartments for nearly five years.

“This place is home,” he said.

Leticia West, a resident for eight months, has had similar experiences. She works as an overnight cashier at Walmart, and her husband works in oilfield services, making too much to qualify as low income but not enough to afford most rentals. He also has a criminal history related to drug charges that make it difficult to find a place, even though the he was convicted more than 10 years ago.

They moved to Casper for work 16 months ago and found themselves at the Star Apartments after staying in area motels. They live in a two bedroom with three children, ages five to 25.

“They’re small rooms, but they’re rooms,” West said.

Manager Larry Ridgeway, who also has a criminal history, said the apartment complex is one of the few places to give convicted felons a second chance. It’s also affordable with rent for a two-bedroom apartment ranging from $435 to $600.

After an  estimate for $380,000 in electrical upgrades, Ridegeway said the 80-year-old owner put the building for sale in February. There were a few interested buyers before the eviction notice, but he doubts it will sell before the May 9 deadline.

Ridgeway, who lives in the apartments, said like all the other tenants, he is looking for a new place to live but has found few housing options.

Star Apartments was the go-to destination for those left without homes when other places in Casper have closed, he said.

“We’re the ones that everybody sends to when they close stuff,” he said.

Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or kelly.byer@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyByer.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(16) Comments

  1. BellaDonna
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    BellaDonna - July 10, 2014 3:54 pm
    So as a new resident to Casper, I have found myself a resident of the rescue mission. Looking at the Star Apartments I thought to myself, if I owned that complex, I would fix it up, (including electric) new windows, and rent it at 30% of a persons income, regardless of their history, as a way to give folks a second chance. With that many units I don't see how you could lose. Then I found this article, and I must say, it is very sad. Looking the property up on LoopNet, I see that the land is a taxable value of 99,000. and the building $229,000. Which means, for 380,000 dollars to bring the electric up to standard, the repairs cost more than the building is worth. If in fact the electric estimate is not inflated. I don't blame an 80 year old man for not wanting to fool with it. I would sell it too. Too bad it can't be bought as a community project, and, at 16,000 sq ft, it would seem that there should be more than just 52 units. I once managed a three story hotel that had 124 rooms.
  2. Slideronin
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    Slideronin - April 13, 2013 9:04 pm
    City and county are the same as big government. They don't care what the little people think or say, even though they say they do.
  3. billy
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    billy - April 13, 2013 8:09 am
    Greed, plain and simple. No one will fix the need for lower income rental housing because the landlords will not give up their $1000+ a month blood sucking ways. Always has been, always will be. and yes I have lived here all my life and it is shameful. Come to Wyoming and Casper, see the sites, eat our food, buy our mall n downtown products then get the heck out! But if you do stay, expect to pay dearly....Shameful!
  4. HONEST ABE
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    HONEST ABE - April 13, 2013 8:08 am
    This article failed to mention the bed bug infestation found at the Star Apartments. Get all residents out then bug bomb and spray the entire building structure. Also other apt complexes are going to be wary renting to fmr Star Tenants, fearing them bringing the bed bugs with them to their apt complexes .

    http://m.trib.com/news/local/casper/bed-bugs-are-biting-can-casper-stop-them/article_140f715d-aab0-530e-af33-217d23302e09.html?mobile_touch=true
  5. Mo
    Report Abuse
    Mo - April 13, 2013 6:29 am
    There's more to lose? Damn, that's scary.
  6. carlover
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    carlover - April 12, 2013 6:40 pm
    i swear to god iof i hear surplus one mor time whil a 4 yars ishundry im going to los my ever loven mind.
  7. dreamchild
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    dreamchild - April 12, 2013 1:43 pm
    obviously you have not been in the star for quite some time. deathtrap? really? since i took over we have upgraded and improved alot of the apartments, most have new stoves, fridges and carpet, as well as upgraded electric. the people who live here call the building home for a reason. dont speak on what you have no clue about.
  8. newtown
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    newtown - April 12, 2013 1:41 pm
    Probably would LST. But, that would open a whole bunch of cans of worms...
  9. LST
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    LST - April 12, 2013 9:54 am
    How about use the money that they want to throw at a convention center to purchase these buildings, bring them up to code, and then rent them out. Wouldn't that improve the face of the city as well?
  10. newtown
    Report Abuse
    newtown - April 12, 2013 9:24 am
    Another failure to see to the root problem. It isn't the fault of the Council OR Code Enforcement. It is 100% the fault of the property owners.

    Low income rentals come with a healthy incentive. These property owners make their money from tax dollars and not rental income. This is a very calculated an dirty business. Improvements violate the concept of diminishing returns. Properties that are in perpetual violation should be met with immediate reprimands because the owners know they can drag out the process and collect as much as possible before they bail. Thus, the birth of the slum lord. This practice drags down neighborhoods, drags down communities and ultimately hurts those who inhabit these sorts of properties. Then everybody gets in an uproar about the government being the bad guy....sweet business model!

    Another prime example of why Code Enforcement should be far more aggressive...to stop these practices before they begin. Integrity is the courage to put a stop to unsafe and sleazy profiteering. Scum baggedry defines the common practices in our lovely community.
  11. jc45
    Report Abuse
    jc45 - April 12, 2013 9:21 am
    I agree, if there were to be a fire and someone was killed, people would scream that the city should have done something to prevent the tragedy.
  12. Strider
    Report Abuse
    Strider - April 12, 2013 9:08 am
    The City is finally doing its job and is requiring the private sector to meet safe housing standards. The Star Apartments has been a dump and a deathtrap for decades. The Fire Department is taking the lead to save the residents from unscrupulous landlords before the place actually goes up in flames. That's better than body bags later.
  13. Sassy
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    Sassy - April 12, 2013 8:34 am
    I { like button } your idea !
  14. James68
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    James68 - April 12, 2013 8:33 am
    Typical for our Council. I understand the need for code compliance, but here is a little common sense economics for you. Force these low income places to close down over a few thousand in repairs and increase the burden on the community for emergency shelter and food, that can run into a much higher cost, or just assist these building owners with repairs and keep these people self reliant.
    Sometimes by helping instead of fining you could save a ton of money and make the community better while your at it.
    Wake up council!!!
    If nothing else, this kind of community support might even buy you a few more votes in the next election (since that seems to be all you care about).
    And remember why the call the rich the top 2%... its hard to be elected with 2% of the vote.
  15. carlover
    Report Abuse
    carlover - April 12, 2013 8:25 am
    well at least they have a few weeks, the first was a few days, so with the surplus of county money and no convention center on the horizon, here is something you can do wit hyour extra cash boys and girls. donate cash to the organsations that need the money to help these and others. id say a 500k from both city and county each would help alot for this. how about you casper? do you think the council and county should give up some of the tx dollars for this instead of some project for their buddies?
  16. ers
    Report Abuse
    ers - April 12, 2013 7:52 am
    Typical ....low income folks get screwed by the city once again....the high and mighty on the council and their rich friemds must pretty happy with themselves first the KC apartments and now the star apartments ...where will the folks on the edge go? Does the council even give a damn?
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