Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Displaced families seek answers at meeting

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As workers continue to repair the Wood Ridge Apartment complex, dozens of families remain displaced.

At a meeting held at Martin Middle School Thursday, city officials teamed up with nonprofits to connect many of these family members with resources. According to a city official, all families still struggling to find a place to stay have been set up in area hotels.

But each day that passes is another day dozens of families are without their homes.

"It is very difficult for me,” Wood Ridge resident Marta Valencia said. “Very difficult for me."

The Grande Perez family was just one among a packed house looking for answers at the Thursday meeting.

Last week, City of Austin code compliance officers deemed a portion of the complex’s buildings unsafe after an elevated walkway collapsed.

With evacuation declared on such short notice, Javier Grande Perez had nowhere to go.

"Well the first night, we got what little we could out of the apartment and we stayed in my car, we slept in the parking lot, my daughter and me."

Forced out on the street, he and others are looking for help, but resources are running thin.

"With the three kids, and the heat and everything, it's very hard to do,” Grand Perez said. “The little money we had, we spent $200 on food because all of our food stayed inside."

City of Austin Code Enforcement, the Austin Tenant Council, and other non profits were in attendance. They're guiding the families through the difficult situation.

"Technically right now, if you get asked to leave, that lease is now broken,” Norma Maldonado with Martin Family Resource Center said. “You may lose your deposit, so part of it is helping them with the first step to break that lease, to receive their money back, and to get them to their next home."

But no matter how many people are lending a hand, the families may be at the mercy of construction crews, until they can go back home.

In a statement released Wednesday, mangers of the Wood Ridge Apartments say they're anticipating the roll out of financial assistance to certain affected residents.

A spokesman for the city says seven families still have no place to stay. They plan to keep them placed in hotels until the construction is complete.

Our Develon Douglas took these photos of the construction and Thursday's meeting.

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