Affordable housing concerns swell as Newport apartment complex doubles rents

‘How senior citizens are supposed to survive?’
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 10:24 PM EDT
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NEWPORT, Ky. (WXIX) - The Victoria Square Apartments have rebranded to the “Cadence of Newport” nearly a year after the complex cleared out residents, many low income, for renovations.

Judy Kappas is among the numerous tenants who were delivered move-out notices in July of last year.

“Victoria Square was my home,” Kappas said. “It was as far as my concern my one and only home. I was going to live there till I died.”

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The apartment complex was purchased by SPS Management shortly before hundreds of residents on monthly leases received the move-out notices.

SPS planned to renovate the property, which sits in the shadow of what eventually will become the 25-acre mixed-use Ovation development on the banks of the Ohio and Licking rivers.

Some residents were given until September; others were given until January. No leases were terminated.

Tenants quickly raised concerns about finding new apartments on short notice. In response, SPS offered later move-out dates and financial assistance.

Those who were supposed to be out by September were given until the end of October. SPS gave out $500 per tenant unit to help with moving expenses, and the firm guaranteed the return of security deposits so long as the units were not damaged.

The City of Newport established a housing hotline to provide resources and assist Victoria Square residents in finding new housing. City officials were also in contact with the developer to provide resources to help displaced residents.

That was cold comfort to Kappas, who had lived in the apartments 58 years since she moved there with her parents when she was 12.

“They died down there, and I was planning—it was going to be my final resting place too, but as it turned out, it wasn’t,” she said.

Kappas says the apartments have been repainted and look “very nice” now. But with the paint job came a price hike.

Kappas says she paid $900 for a two bedroom when she lived there. Now, a similar unit at The Cadence costs as much as $1,900.

“My understanding is they’re not accepting any section 8,” Kappas said referring to the federal housing voucher program that pays landlords to accept low-income tenants. “I am section 8.”

SPS did not immediately return our comment request about whether it plans to accept section 8 vouchers.

Meanwhile, Kappas has found a new place to live. But she misses the amenities she grew up with.

“I’m handicapped. I cannot just pick up a bag of laundry or basket and take off. I have to make plans. I either have to get a senior citizen bus to get me or get a friend or get somebody to assist me. It’s very difficult. Everything I do is a little bit more complicated,” she said.

She’s concerned affordable housing is going to be harder and harder to find in Newport.

“You tell me how senior citizens are supposed to survive?” She posed. “We get a set income. It’s not like we can go out and work an extra eight hours overtime to pay for the adjustment in our rent. We can’t, and they are pushing us out.”

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