Austin apartment complex tenants priced out as new owner takes over

Tenants at the complex tell KVUE they are worried about finding a new home.

AUSTIN, Texas — Jose Moreno works hard as a jeweler. This is how he manages to make ends meet by supporting six children and his mother in Mexico.

“In Mexico, I couldn’t earn enough money to support my family,” Moreno said.

That’s why he came to the United States. He has lived in the Old Homestead apartments for a year and a half and shares an apartment, paying around $700. He can’t afford more, for the sake of his family.

“My family is everything. If they don’t eat, I don’t sleep,” he said.

But now, with the sale of the complex, the tenants have to be out by the end of the year, and he doesn’t know where to go. According to Zumper, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin is $1,539, more than double what Moreno pays.

“Often I can’t sleep because I can’t find an apartment,” he said.

He is not the only one in this situation. Ken Purcell has lived in the complex for four years, paying around $1,300 for a two-bedroom apartment. He said he couldn’t afford the same square footage elsewhere.

“Currently around town, the average is around $2,600,” Purcell said.

The apartment’s new buyer, JCI Residential, said construction could start in 2023. Residents say they’ve been offered a free month’s rent, but after that they don’t know where to go.

“I can’t afford to live in Austin after they kicked us out at Christmas,” Purcell said.

The tenants are asking that the rest of their rent be waived for the first year and that they receive assistance with moving costs.

JCI Residential said in a statement:

“JCI Residential is under contract to purchase the Old Homestead Apartments and is working with the current landlord to inform residents of potential redevelopment plans, as well as to provide rental concessions and other alternative affordable housing options to residents at the expiration of their lease.

Meanwhile, Moreno and Purcell will continue to work honestly, unsure if it will be enough to earn a living in Austin.

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