Photos by Keeley Smith.
They gathered on a breezy, sunny day in Belmont Shore on the first of the month, signs waving.
A number of them made sure to pay their monthly rent on time, even though they weren’t guaranteed a home in the apartment they’d lived in for years.
Today marked the continuation of a stalemate between the landlord Entourage Property LLC and the inhabitants of an apartment complex located at 54th Place and Ocean Boulevard. Despite paying their rent and asking to remain in their apartment, from which they were vacated a few weeks ago, multiple residents remain essentially homeless.
The tenants were rudely awakened about two weeks ago by a three-day notice to vacate their units by their property management company, Entourage Property Management LLC.
The eviction notices came shortly after one unit in the building requested an examination of what they believed to be black mold, which originated from a leak. After the unit was tested and confirmed to be contaminated, word spread among the tight-knit group of neighbors, who were advised that they too should request an inspection.
Tully Mills and Melissa Rodarte have lived at the property for 11 months and were among those who requested and received an inspection. The couple said they had to inquire about their results nearly a week after the test was performed and were advised by an Entourage employee that despite a leak, one that would not require them to move out of the unit, their unit tested negative for any trace of mold.
The residents gathered today were joined by Brenda Caloca and Josh Butler of Housing Long Beach.
“The landlord keeps asking when they will return their keys,” said Caloca. “They continue to be emailed by Entourage. He [the owner] is still standing his ground and not willing to produce results of the [mold inspection reports].”
“The residents just want to know what they are dealing with,” said Butler.
He noted that the only tenants vacated were the ones requesting the mold test.
Butler said Councilwoman Suzie Price is pushing for a sit-down between the parties involved—the tenants and the landlord. The tenants appear ready to meet as soon as possible; it’s up to the landlord if the sit-down actually takes place, said Butler.
“They keep saying they [Entourage] need to speak with their attorneys, but we haven’t heard back,” said Butler.
For the time being, the tenants will continue to protest the company’s practices as unfair and rally the community in order to move back into their home.