United Way raising funds for residents forced out of problematic apartment complex

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fiery words and fired up residents and activists said the city of Charlotte has not done enough for the people of Lake Arbor Apartments.

"What line would you rather be in, the line for Chick-fil-A and Popeyes or the line for Lake Arbor?" activist Blanche Penn said.

On Saturday, dozens of families will be evicted from the troubled Lake Arbor complex, with the rest ordered to be out by the year's end.

"I am falling apart, not sleeping, barely eating," said Shadavious Hopkins-Billings, a Lake Arbor resident. "I'm sad every day."

A few days later, the United Way of Central Carolinas started a fundraising campaign.

The charity wants to raise $350,000 to aid residents.

In total, six nonprofit organizations are stepping up to help them.

The Housing Justice Coalition also said it's working with the Southern Comfort Inn to provide residents with a discounted rate.

Problems have plagued Lake Arbor for years. The landlord is forcing people who live there to vacate so renovations can be completed.

Children will be without homes at the start of the school year, and families could potentially be homeless as fall approaches.

"We should not have to live like this," said Doretha Johnson, a Lake Arbor resident. "Nobody should have to live like this. How many of these people have to be displaced? Y'all talk about affordable housing. What affordable housing?"

The Housing Justice Coalition is working with residents to find them a safe place to stay.

The group said they are partnering with the Southern Comfort Inn to provide residents with a discounted rate.

"If you close your eyes to displacement to our citizens of Charlotte, you close your eyes to affordable housing," Penn said.

Mayor Vi Lyles pleaded for affordable housing providers to step up.

"If you rent a place and it is an affordable level, we need your help," Lyles said.

Group hands out school supplies at bus stops near Lake Arbor Apartments

The Housing Justice Coalition stopped at bus stops near the Lake Arbor Apartments in west Charlotte Monday to hand out things like clothes, school supplies and snacks.

The effort came just days before nearly 100 families will be forced out as the complex is renovated.

Shiquetta Caldwell's family is one of 78 asked to leave by Friday. She said she has been filling out apartment applications in between working three jobs, but still hasn't been able to find a place to live.

"When I drop off these applications, I have to show you my Dunkin' Donut pay stubs, I have show my Show Pro, I have to show my DoorDash statements, just to live," Caldwell said. "I've also been looking on the outskirts of Charlotte, something cheaper and more affordable."

Mia Billings is the grandmother of seven children who live at Lake Arbor.

"It's great that they're doing that so they can get an education, but it's far from the reality of coming home. Who knows where they're going," Billings said.

Channel 9 has investigated the complaints at Lake Arbor for years, including rats, roaches and mold.

Caldwell said while support is needed right now, the biggest thing is housing.

The city of Charlotte and several other groups have been trying to help find people alternative housing.

"We don't need no supplies, no food. We need a place to stay," she said.

Another 177 families were told they have until the end of December to find somewhere to stay.

A spokesperson for the Housing Justice Coalition said the organization advocated for residents at Monday night's City Council meeting.

They've also partnered with the Southern Comfort Inn nearby to provide residents with discounted rates.