There are some growing pains for the Lakeland Housing Authority as it prepares for a major new project.
- $60 million complex called Twin Lakes Estates planned
- Some residents haven't moved out, not sure provisions have been made
- Housing authoritys says it will work with residents to help them move
It will replace the old WestLake complex near the RP Funding Center with a $60 million complex called Twin Lakes Estates.
The WestLake complex is very old and its 120 units are very outdated. The Twin Lakes Estates will have 320 units. The housing authority is hoping demolition can start soon on current units for the first phase of the project.
But some residents living in soon-to-be-demolished units still haven't moved out and don't believe proper provisions have been made for their move.
"I got some clothes. These are mostly clothes," said Angelina Vasquez as she pointed out how she was packing up her family's things in boxes. She has five grandchildren living in her home.
Angelina Vasquez has five grandchildren living with her and is still looking for a new place to live. (Rick Elmhorst, staff)
She claimed she wasn't able to find Section 8 housing as a new place to live because she hasn't gotten a voucher from the housing authority.
"So I don't know what to say or do about the situation cause I'm alone with my five kids. I don't know what to do," she said.
Housing authority Executive Director Ben Stevenson said there had been a delay in getting vouchers approved by HUD but said the authority had provided letters to residents that they could give to landlords explaining they would be paid.
There are also letters the residents can give to Lakeland Electric for service at a new location.
He said the authority had been working with residents for the past year getting them prepared to move. He said the agency would do all it could to make the moving process as smooth as possible. That would include moving expenses and even putting up residents in hotels if needed.
"And that's why we try to talk to them as much as possible, to alleviate as much stress as we can. But that's the nature of the beast. It's stressful for everyone," he said.
"I can't lie. I'm not really excited about moving," said resident Sharonda Strong. She hasn't gotten aggressive about moving without a voucher in hand but expected it to all work out OK.
"I really don't want to pack my stuff because I don’t know where I'm going," she said.