The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday June 29th

Community members protest Eller Capital Partners housing practices

<p>Community members gather to protest the practices and treatment of Kira Fisher by Ellers Capital Partners on June 11. </p>
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Community members gather to protest the practices and treatment of Kira Fisher by Ellers Capital Partners on June 11. 

Fisher will move out of the complex, which has been owned by Eller Capital Partners since November 2013, at the end of June into a condominium she purchased in Chapel Hill.

In fall 2014, she was informed that Eller Residential Living, the management branch of the company, would no longer accept housing choice vouchers, also known as Section 8 vouchers, after June 3, 2015.

Fisher’s wheelchair-accessible apartment provided a safe living space for 15 years, she said. It was close to her doctor, dentist, grocery store and bank. Finding another place to live has come at a cost.

“Not only monetarily but also emotionally for both me and my family,” she said.

The vouchers are a federal program that assists low-income families, the elderly and the disabled by paying a portion of their rent. The landlord does not receive any less money from those qualified to use Section 8 vouchers.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Solidarity Network, a group of local residents, protested at the office of Eller Capital Partners on June 11 in response to Fisher’s displacement.

Earlier that day, Fisher delivered a letter expressing her concerns about the company’s management on Section 8 vouchers. Fisher said that ten minutes after delivering her letter, she received a call from one of Eller Residential Living’s property managers informing her that she could extend her lease and remain in 86 North.

“It’s too little too late,” she said. “I feel like a yo-yo dangling in the wind.”

From the time she was notified, Fisher worried about where she was going to live. On June 3, she signed a document promising to vacate by June 30. Her family helped her purchase a condominium that needed renovations. Fisher said she was never informed of the Eller Residential Living’s intentions to extend the leases of current tenants with Section 8 vouchers.

On June 11, the Solidarity Network demonstrated their disapproval of the company’s practices and their support for Fisher. The protestors stood outside the office waiting to be attended. After waiting for 15 minutes, the building’s security appeared and told the protestors that the people in the office didn’t want to speak to them and the police had been called.

The Rev. Nathan Alan Hollister accompanied Fisher in the morning and led protestors in the afternoon.

“Kira is not alone,” he said. “The point was well made. I hope they exemplify good business and respect for the community they’re in.”

The protestors signed a letter demanding that Eller Residential Living stop displacing residents, especially those with disabilities, and slid it under the office door.

General Services Corporation, a company that owns complexes in Carrboro, announced two years ago that it would no longer accept Section 8 vouchers. Dissatisfied tenants have also protested GSC’s practices.

Devin Ceartas, a Chapel Hill business owner, said he participated in the protest because he was concerned about the direction the community was heading towards.

“They’re cases that are legal but not ethical,” Ceartas said.

In the protestors’ letter, they demanded a response from Eller Capital Partners by today. The Solidarity Network stated in the letter that they will take further action if the company does not respond.

In a statement, Eller Capital Partners said they have never accepted new residents with section 8 housing vouchers at any of its communities. They said they have never asked a resident to leave a community just because they hold a section 8 voucher. 

The statement said costs and regulations discourage some complexes from participating in the section 8 program. 

The statement also said a renewal offer letter was delivered to Kira Fisher on June 8, prior to the protest.

“They’re not treating me like a person,” Fisher said. “They act like (because) they extended me a chance to stay, that I’m a bad person for expressing my voice.”

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story stated that Eller Capital Partners could not be reached for comment, but they provided a statement. The story has been updated to reflect this change.

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