Katrina Evacuees Homeless Once Again

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

More than a year after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, a family who evacuated to Tallahassee is once again trying to find a place to call home.

"We thought it could only get better. Nothing could be worse than losing everything you have for your whole life," said Lia Harrell.

Just as Harrell and her family thought they were doing well living in Tallahassee, even working jobs, their apartment complex is kicking them out. Managers say they make too much money for their low income facility. Now they have one week to vacate.

"When I got that notice my heart just dropped. How are we gonna find some place in seven days, move, get electricity, power, just to find a place, get approved, and that will not take seven days only," said Harrell.

Her sister, Ria Jacobs, says she feels really their elderly parents who also evacuated to Tallahassee.

"You want the golden years to be happy and comfortable and to watch all they've been through and now to see the rug being pulled from under them again. That's hard because I'm wondering how much more they can take."

Management at the Bainbridge Club who did not want to go on camera say they're just following IRS guidelines. To be courteous though, they are giving the family until the end of the month.

The family says it’s still not enough.

"My cousin who also lives in the complex was able to find a new apartment, but it’s not gonna be ready until October 15, so she asked to stay until that time, and they told her no. She still had to be out in seven days, otherwise her things would be on the street," said Jacobs.

As time ticks on, the family turns to faith, hoping it can soon find another home sweet home together.

"The hurricane did not take our spirit and I'd like the complex to just leave us alone and let us have that," said Harrell.

This all stems from post Katrina regulations. The IRS told apartment complexes to exempt income qualifications and let evacuees move in.

The Bainbridge Club says that was temporary though and is no longer applicable after September 30.

The complex is a low to moderate income complex and would lose tax credits if overqualified residents are in the units after September 30.


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