Evicted resident compelled to move to North Carolina

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 17, 2002

A public housing resident who lost her home to an accidental fire last month will relocate to North Carolina after failing to find any other affordable options in Suffolk.

The victim’s mother, Susie Golden, told the News-Herald this week that her daughter was approved for Section 8 assistance in North Carolina, and will settle into an apartment in Elizabeth City with her four children prior to the start of the school year.

Gwendolyn Bond had until Aug. 9 to locate a unit in Suffolk to receive assistance from the Red Cross and Social Services, which would have covered the deposit and first month’s rent. Section 8, a federal subsidy, pays the difference between the set monthly rate and the recipient’s share of the cost, based on gross income and other variables.

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Since the fire on July 8 in Hoffler Apartments, massive community support poured in donations of all kinds, but Bond could not find a new residence. Her limited income was the major roadblock; she previously rented the unit for $48 per month.

Bond came home to find that the apartment had been consumed in flames because her daughter had left cooking oil heating on the stove while upstairs on a phone call.

The fire spread quickly causing some $10,000 in damage to the unit, and the family lost most all of its belongings. What shocked the family and the community was the immediate notice of eviction from the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which took the public stance that the agency’s insurance policy forbid the relocation of the family.

Bond said the housing authority originally stated that she was evicted due to negligence.

The fire department ruled the fire an accident.

Members of the community insisted that there is no language in the lease indicating that eviction will follow a fire if accidentally caused by an occupant. The lease stipulates, in part, that a resident can be evicted for &uot;good cause.&uot;

Resident-at-large commissioner Thelma Hinton fought vigorously to gain support for re-housing Bond within the housing authority’s five complexes, but was shot down by the lack of support from fellow commissioners.

The Red Cross provided three-night hotel accommodations for the family immediately following the fire, after which they started living from house to house.