Local property manager offers housing to displaced River Place tenants

A local property manager has offered new housing to some of the people who were evicted from River Place Residence on Wednesday and were camping outside the site.

'If you don't believe in miracles, it's happening,' says peer support worker

Marc Hooper, property manager for Bertram Property Management, is offering one-bedroom units to some of the displaced residents from River Place Residence in Sandwich Town. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A local property manager has offered new housing to some of the people who were evicted from River Place Residence on Wednesday and were camping outside the site.

Marc Hooper, property manager for Bertram Property Management, was driving home on Wednesday afternoon when he got a call from his wife. She told him there were evicted tenants on the front lawn of River Place Residence in need of housing.

The front lawn is still peppered with tents left behind by the 20 to 30 evicted tenants. Hooper took the initiative to go and meet those people.

"From what I could tell there were a number of qualified tenants literally sitting in tents down there, so... here we are, showing the unit," Hooper said.

Hooper is offering vacant one-bedroom apartments in two of the buildings he oversees.

Holly McPherson, shown here, and her husband were offered a vacant apartment by Marc Hooper. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

He is renting apartments to couples for $1,050 per month and charging individuals between $500 to $800 per month, saying that he is trying to work within what is affordable for those receiving disability payments.

"I'm hoping I'm going to be able to house a number of the couples and hopefully some of the single fellas down there also," he said. 

Holly McPherson and her husband were among those staying in a tent Wednesday. On Thursday, she was looking at some of Hooper's apartments. 

"This is the first person... who has actually come through and has done what we were begging people to do from the get-go," McPherson said.

McPherson and her husband need a place to go, as they both receive assistance from the government and made payments through disability support, she said. 

"Those of us that didn't cause the problems are now homeless because of the problems which is no fault of ours," she said. 

"It's truly, truly a relief and the kindest gesture and it's not going to go without complete thankfulness." 

River Place Residence tenants set up tents on the lawns of the residence after being evicted July 21. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Hooper's actions are a blessing, said Tammy Chapman, advocate peer support worker. 

"If you don't believe in miracles, it's happening."

Many River Place residents moved into the building after the city removed a tented area in a ravine last year.

Then, earlier this month, the City of Windsor deemed River Place Residence unsafe for occupancy, citing damage, theft and vandalism. 

The city ordered an eviction of all residents from the building for July 21.

Evicted tenants said they had paid rent for the month of July and many of them had nowhere to live.

CBC News contacted the lawyer of River Place Residence about whether the landlord would seek an injunction, but they did not immediately respond. 

Support and peer workers had been in place for residents, but they were asked to leave at the beginning of the year, said Lisa Valente, a local advocate who had helped with the move.

The city sent social workers to the site, some of whom were helpful, said Valente. But many went there with a piece of paper and a photocopy of the mission address and the Salvation Army address.

"They know where the mission is. They're homeless. They've been homeless," she said.

"What a waste of paper or they gave them a couple of places to call with a lower rent income." 

Valente also expected that the building owner would do more to provide security, she added.

With files by Jacob Barker