Due to a source error, a previous version of this story said Sula Eubanks was evicted from her apartment in Collins Crossing Condominiums after her rent rose roughly $200 per month. This was incorrect. Eubanks’ rent did not rise and she was evicted after she failed to pay rent. The story reflects these changes.
Before even entering Sula Eubanks’ room at the Red Roof Inn in Durham, you can hear her two dogs barking.
Inside, the two Chihuahuas — Rocky and Lucky — are crammed into small cages under the sink.
Groceries are stuffed behind a television, and a bag of ice in the sink serves as a refrigerator. Piles of clothes dot the room.
Eubanks, a former resident of Collins Crossing Apartment Homes in Carrboro, was recently evicted because her family could not afford the rent.
“I moved there in March 2012, and the management at the time approved our application,” Eubanks said.
Aspen Square Management did not respond to multiple requests for comment Monday.
“When I tried to talk to … the person at the office, she wouldn’t even sit down with me,” Eubanks said. “If I come in with a lease and I feel like I’m keeping up my end of the bargain, it’s just not fair — I’m being cheated.”
She said there are at least two other families who were also evicted from Collins Crossing staying at the Red Roof Inn.
Eubanks said her husband now has to walk a long distance to his job at K&W Cafeteria, and she said she is struggling to care for and comfort her 34-year old autistic daughter who lives with her.
She said she has been looking for other places to move, but most apartments in Chapel Hill and Carrboro are too expensive for her budget.
“It’s outrageous — some rent is almost $1,000 a month,” Eubanks said. “We’ll stay at the motel until we find something, but I definitely don’t want to end up here forever.”
Residents held protests against rising rent in November, and their grievances have caught the attention of the town’s Board of Aldermen.
Alderman Michelle Johnson said she was especially concerned about the issue because Collins Crossing is one of the last affordable places to live in Carrboro.
“We understand that it’s hard, there’s not that much space that’s affordable for folks in this town anymore,” Johnson said.
She said that Collins Crossing has historically been home to many low-income ethnic minorities.
And Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said he worries the management is trying to gentrify the neighborhood.
“I’ve tried negotiating with these people, I’ve tried being forceful, but they are still continuing on the same path,” Chilton said. “It’s a private company, so I don’t really know what we can do.”
Eubanks said she was hopeful that Carrboro would buy the property — an idea proposed in December by former Alderman Dan Coleman — but Chilton said that is not a realistic option.
“It would be difficult to force them to sell, and the town has no experience being a residential land board,” he said.
Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said she fears the board’s hands are tied, but she looks forward to having a serious conversation about Collins Crossing.
“I think the saddest thing for me is that these folks just don’t get Carrboro,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “This is not the Carrboro way of doing things — we’re always very inclusive.”
For now, Eubanks and her family continue to live out of suitcases at the Red Roof Inn, which she said costs about as much as their old rent.
“We’ve been robbed of our lives,” Eubanks said. “I want people to know so then we can do something about it.”
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