Published: Nov 05, 2012 05:03 PM
Modified: Nov 05, 2012 05:05 PM
CARRBORO - A group of about 30 people rallied last weekend against rent increases at Collins Crossing, the former Abbey Court Condominiums on Jones Ferry Road.
James Wilson said his rent last month was $560, up from $480 when he moved into his two-bedroom apartment 14 months ago.
Tar Heel Companies in Raleigh sold the complex to Massachusetts-based Aspen Square Management in June.
Since then, Wilson said his rent has risen $25 every three months, and will continue to rise until it reaches $720.
“I can’t afford that rent, and many other families in Abbey Court cannot,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Aspen disputed Wilson’s claim.
“There is not a process of raising rents every three months,” Brenda Wishart said Monday. “It just isn’t true.”
She said Aspen has raised rents to help pay for neglected maintenance problems. She said some people are on less than annual leases and their rates can go up when they renew.
“It is a much better place to live than it was June 6,” she said.Home to immigrants
The complex is home to many low-income Latino and ethnic Karen immigrants from Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Judith Blau, a UNC sociology professor and director of the Carrboro-Chapel Hill Human Rights Center, came to the rally Saturday to show solidarity. The Human Rights Center was established at Abbey Court in 2009 to provide English classes and other programs, but it moved to Barnes Street in January after being evicted from the complex due to zoning issues.
Three Carrboro police cars trailed the group as it marched in the middle of Jones Ferry Road from the Carrboro Town Commons to the apartment complex.
“Whose street? Our street!” the group chanted when police asked them to stay in the bike lane.
No one was arrested.
Aspen Square Management also owns Berkshire Manor Apartment Homes and Berkshire Manor West on N.C. 54 in Carrboro.
Berkshire Manor offers 750-square-foot, one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartments starting at $759 per month. Two-bedroom/one-bathroom 950-square-foot apartments are $839.
Berkshire Manor West has 840-square-foot, two-bedroom/one-bathroom apartments for $799.Town to write letter
Wilson, who brought his complaints to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen last month, said rent increases are driving families out the complex.
Juanita Creedmore, another Collins Crossing resident, spoke to the aldermen about poor living conditions, including bugs in her apartment.
“When you go into the kitchen, you better have a flyswatter,” said Creedmore, who has lived in the apartment complex for four years.
At the meeting, Mayor Mark Chilton said he would meet with Aspen Square Management and draft a letter of support from the board.