Local organization helping neighbors in need after residents forced to vacate apartment building

LINK of Hampton Roads
Posted at 4:32 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 22:10:30-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – After residents of the Seaview Lofts in Newport News have been required to vacate after the 48-hour deadline for the apartment building to pass inspection has been reached, one local organization is helping neighbors.

LINK of Hampton Roads helps find housing for those who have barriers causing them to struggle. These are often people who have poor credit, some type of disability, and those experiencing homelessness.

Ann Ruffin, the program director of LINK told News 3 that anyone from Seaview who’s in need of some food or clothing can stop by their office on Warwick Boulevard.

LINK is a federally-funded program. One of their clients is Anthony Nelson, who’s lived at Seaview for almost six years.

News 3 reporter Angela Bohon met Nelson while he was waiting to check into a hotel. He told us he was homeless when he first came to Newport News from Michigan years ago, and he said LINK helped him.

The program is helping him once again, and he says that has allowed him to stay calm about this situation.

“I try to keep my composure because you can’t really do anything about this until they do something about it, so you kinda just gotta go with it and let it go. Some people can’t take it like that - they don’t know what to do,” Nelson said.

Ruffin says she's seen this type of situation firsthand.

"I'm really concerned about the potential trauma to people," she said. "I can only imagine what it would feel like if I was displaced from my home and I was told I had to leave in 48 hours."

In a letter sent to residents of the Seaview Apartments on June 28, Director Harold L. Roach Jr. said that the order was given due to the building's owner's failure to correct safety issues with the property. Residents were instructed to leave within "forty-eight hours of the date of this notice."

The building's two elevators are why the building was deemed unsafe. According to the city, usually only one of the two elevators would be working, but the functioning elevator was not up to code,including the two-way communication in case of an emergency were not working.

According to City of Newport News spokesperson Kim Lee, the city has been in and out of court with the apartment complex since April, with nine court orders issued.

We’re told if the elevators are fixed, they could be inspected again early next week - but that’s not until after the July 4 holiday.

If they pass the inspection, the condemnation on the building can be lifted and residents can go back home.

For now, we know the city is using taxpayer money to provide free hotel stays for residents through July 6. The Department of Human Services set up at a nearby library helping register residents so they can take advantage of the offer.

And while there are many uncertainties, Nelson says he'd like to return to the place he's called home for the last six years and says he's grateful for the help.

"There’s more to it than that elevator. It’s more to it. Whatever they’re doing, I don’t know. I’m just glad these people are here to help me out and I can kinda go on get it behind me the best way I can," he said.

News 3 reached out to the United Way, and they told us they have not been dispatched by the city to help at this time. If people need additional help, they can call 211.

Click here for more information about LINK.