Trinity College Evicting Residents To Make Way For Student Housing
By STEVEN GOODE
July 02, 2010
Trinity College, looking for more student housing, is moving to evict several longtime tenants of college-owned housing on Crescent Street.
The college has launched a long-planned dormitory expansion project and told the residents they have until Aug. 4 to vacate the homes that many have lived in for more than a decade.
The plan calls for more than 50 students, now housed on the south side of Crescent Street, to be relocated to buildings on the north side of the street currently occupied by rent-paying residents.
Buildings on the south side of the street will be demolished to make room for new dormitories. The same scenario will be repeated on the north side, eventually creating about 600 new beds for students.
"We would like it to look like [student housing on] Vernon Street," said Paul Mutone, the college's treasurer and vice president for finance and operations.
Mutone said that expansion of student housing has been part of the college's long-term master plan since the late 1990s, and that the decision to move forward now was influenced by lower construction costs and interest rates. Mutone said the college hopes to attract a private company to manage the housing.
But some residents say they haven't been given enough time to find new housing and that the company hired to help them relocate hasn't done its job.
"They don't care about us as a community," said Aurice Barlow, a Crescent Street resident for 13 years.
Barlow and six other residents say Trinity is treating them poorly and is not accounting for their stabilizing influence on the neighborhood during the school year, when they pick up trash left behind by students, put up with noise and partying and do a good job maintaining their homes, unlike many of their college-age neighbors.
"We've been here so many years and we've been good tenants," said Jacqueline Rivera, who with her mother, Evelyn Mendez, has lived on Crescent Street for 16 years.
Aside from being forced to move, Rivera and other residents said DeMarco Management Corp., the company hired to help them relocate, has done a poor job of keeping them informed about the process and finding them comparable housing. She and others say the company has not given them proper notice about the Aug. 4 deadline to leave. Nor has it kept them informed about what they are entitled to financially from the college, which is picking up much of the cost of the relocation, or providing interpreters for residents who need them.
"They haven't been professionals," said Barlow. "They harass us and haven't given us ample time."
Maria DeMarco, owner of DeMarco Management, said her employees are experienced and compassionate when they are hired to do relocations.
"We always look at relocations as an opportunity to get people into a better situation," DeMarco said, adding that she understood why some of the tenants are upset.
"I'd be upset too," she said. "It's totally understandable."
Alan Sauer, director of business operations for the college, said approximately 24 affected residents were notified about Trinity's plans in late March and that a meeting to discuss the process was held in early April. DeMarco Management, which the college had hired with success in the past to relocate residents from two other building projects, was contracted to facilitate the move, he said.
Sauer said the college recently learned that some residents were complaining and called another meeting June 8. At that meeting, officials were told by some residents that they had not received their 90-day eviction notice by certified mail. Sauer said they contacted the post office and were told the residents never came to the post office to pick up the notice.
Maritza Burgos, a 20-year resident, disagreed, saying she didn't receive her 90-day notice until June 9.
But not all the residents have complained about the process, and some have already moved. Tanya Pearson is among those who said they are satisfied. She found an apartment, the college paid for her security deposit and credit check and she said a moving van is being scheduled.
"The experience has been pretty good for me," Pearson said. "They came through, so far."
Mutone said the college has been as fair as possible in the the relocation process. But he does understand the residents' resistance and disappointment.
"We're picking them up and telling them they have to move," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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