Regional agencies offer support to Newport residents told to move

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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Local agencies and nonprofit organizations came together Wednesday to discuss how they can offer assistance to residents at Newport’s Victoria Square apartments.

Those residents were originally told they must vacate by the end of September so the units could be renovated by its new owners. The residents were told Wednesday that they now have until Oct. 31 to find alternate housing and that they will also receive additional assistance from those new owners, Sunset Property Solutions.

“From nearly the moment that this was announced, we had an emergency community partner meeting that was called, and all of us sitting here were part of that call,” Executive Director at St. Vincent de Paul Northern Kentucky Karen Zengel said at the meeting put on by the local chapter of the NAACP. “Because we realize that we need to attack the situation together, that individually it could get really confusing.”

Here are the agencies involved in the effort and what assistance they can provide:

Brighton Center 

Brighton Center has created a direct phone line for Victoria Square residents to find the help they need. The line, (859) 491-8303 extension 2409, is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5 p.m.

“We are meeting one on one with households, and we are putting a priority to those that originally had the Sept. 30 notice to vacate, and then what I understand now is Oct. 31,” Vice President at Brighton Center Talia Frye said at the meeting.

Since opening the line, Frye said they have spoken with 67 households.

Frye said each organization had limited rental assistance dollars with different eligibility. The call line helps Brighton Center understand what financial assistance they can offer.  

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“Affordable housing stock in our community is not where it needs to be for what might be affordable for families,” Frye said. “And so, I think it’s going to take some collective responses by all of us, as we are working one on one with each of you to think about what’s going to make the most sense for each of your families.”

Housing and Financial Wellness Director for Brighton Center Diana Greene recommend that residents on Section 8 should reach out to the Section 8 offices to let them know they struggle to find available housing.

She also recommends residents on section 8 reach out to Brighton Center to meet with one of their housing counselors to walk through the process with them.

“I don’t want to go deep into credit right now because that’s probably the furthest thing from your minds. What I will say is that something as simple as disputing things on your credit report can increase your credit score,” Greene said at the meeting. “That’s going to be one of the things that a lot of these property management companies are looking at is your credit score or credit worthiness.”

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass Director of Advocacy Karen Ginn said any resident wondering if a legal issue has ensued would operate on a case-by-case basis.

“We will need a copy of your lease and the notices, and we’re happy to look at those,” Ginn said.

Residents can call their intake phone line at (859) 431-8200 Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ginn asks that people be patient as they get an influx of calls.

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Ginn said residents in their first-year lease have a better chance for legal defense than those on a month-to-month lease.

Residents will be asked exploratory and intake questions to see if they qualify for Legal Aid’s services. Ginn said they could offer counsel and advice, and if they determine a legal defense, they may be able to accept some extended representation on casework.

“I will say from what we’ve seen so far, you have more notice than they are required to supply to you,” Ginn said.

One resident at the meeting asked Ginn if residents in the second phase of development, given until Jan. 31, 2023, could be asked to move out sooner.

“I would say it’s possible,” Ginn said. “They can send out whenever they want, but I would get out in front of this, and whatever you have at the moment, call us and let us look at your situation.”

Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission 

Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission (NKCAC) Executive Director Catrena Bowman said they could offer limited funding for rental assistance and emergency assistance for utilities and water. 

While there is limited funding specifically for rent, NKCAC Fatherhood Program Director Kareem Simpson said their utility assistance could help relieve some funds that can go toward rent. 

Simpson said Section 8 is the most sustainable way to help pay rent if you qualify. 

NKCAC also has case managers available to help with things like getting application fees alleviated.

“We work very closely with Brighton and with Vincent De Paul and make sure that we are using our phones in a way to get the funds out to as many people as possible,” Bowman said at the meeting.

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The number for NKCAC is (859) 581-6607.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul provides financial assistance and basic needs for people struggling to make ends meet.

The helpline for St. Vincent de Paul is (859) 341-3219 and is open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“We have someone follow up with you directly to learn more about your situation and see how we can help,” Executive Director at St. Vincent de Paul Northern Kentucky Karen Zengel said.

Newport Independent Schools

Approximately 45 students are affected by the evictions. 

The district said students’ families could continue enrollment at Newport Independent even if they move out of the district. Families are told to contact Student Support Services at (859) 292-3001 or their child’s school for enrollment assistance.

Families needing assistance with school clothing, hygiene items, school supplies, and food may also contact Student Support Services. Families impacted by the eviction may receive additional food assistance from the school’s Stock the Kitchen food pantry each Thursday. 

Victoria Square resident Facebook group

Victoria Square resident Kyle Randall created a Facebook group called Victoria Square residents to share resources like packing supplies. He said at the meeting that the Newport Fire Department is allowing boxes to be dropped off there. Residents of 536 at Victoria Square also store boxes for people who can’t get to the fire department. Randall said residents could contact him for moving resources via Facebook.

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