A number of people living on Madison's Allied Drive got something they never expected this holiday season -- word that they need to leave their apartments by the end of the year.
The owner of the buildings is worried about a public nuisance abatement order from the city attorney's office, but the move to move out everybody is chilling news for tenants -- forced to find low-income housing before the holidays.
"The area's alright. It's not as bad as people make it out to be," 28-year-old Elisha Steen says.
Steen moved into her apartment on Allied Drive in August.
"My job's here. Kids go to daycare here. Everything's like right here for me," she says.
She knew about the neighborhood's troubled reputation, but knew she had little choice in finding an affordable two-bedroom for her children.
"I'm low-income. I have three children. I'm a single mom. I don't have much choice 'cause I can't afford $700 a month in rent somewhere else," Steen says.
But a letter informed Steen she will need to find somewhere else to live by the end of the year.
"They could've gave us a couple of months. It's Christmas time. I'm a single mom, so now instead of Christmas presents, I've got to come up with another deposit for an apartment," she says.
Jeff Meyer manages more than 200 units in the neighborhood, including the three buildings tenants need to vacate after being given notices of non-renewal of their leases.
"I have sent away for all of the police reports on the properties, and in the last six months, I just circled the high number of serious police calls and these are the copies I got. This is for 24 units, but only 15 are occupied," Meyer says.
He says the new owner of the properties is worried about a public nuisance abatement order that's likely to come from the Madison city attorney's office.
"It upsets the underlying mortgage lenders and means things are very wrong with the properties and there can be serious fines as everything progresses," he says.
But, Meyer says, the owner hopes to create a better place to live by renovating the buildings which makes them unlivable for tenants in the meantime.
"Some of the units are in very poor condition. There's going to be remodeling required to bring them up to speed to the point where residents really can't live there. Some of the units do have pest infestations," Meyer says.
Steen understands. She says she uses her oven to heat her home, but future improvements offer her little comfort from the cold.
"They really do need remodeling so I can't be that mad about it, but at the same time, we could've gotten more notice than 30 days," she says.
A letter went out to some tenants saying they could re-apply for a lease and relocate to another apartment, but the letter also says rent is likely to go up for renovated units. A meeting is scheduled for 6:30 pm Wednesday at 2349 Allied Drive to educate people on their rights and their options.