Prayer vigil held for Redwood City families evicted from apartments

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KTVU) – A prayer vigil was held Tuesday for a group of families who are being evicted from their apartments to make way for renovated and higher priced units in Redwood City.

The tenants have banded together and call themselves the 910 Clinton United, a nod to the name of their apartments, 910 Clinton Street.

Eighteen families were given a 60-day notice to vacate their units. Tuesday marked the day of the deadline and many were seen moving boxes and furniture.

Gabriel Banuelos, 14, has kept records of every letter the new owners have sent. He said FPI Management did offer a small incentive for each day tenants moved out before the deadline, which led to a $500 dollar incentive. He said it was still is not enough to help several families relocate.

"Today is a sad day for everyone," Banuelos said. "Everyone's worried and they don't want to leave their homes."

According to Banuelos, of the 18 families being evicted, eight are staying behind.

"We have looked all over the Peninsula, even across the Bay," he said. "It's just too expensive."

Linda Howell said she hasn't been able to find a place either.

"People think we're digging our heels in, that we're trying to be jerks, but the people that are still here haven't been able to find a place," she said.

Howell has lived in her unit for 32 years. She understands new owners have plans for the building and it's all business, but she wonders what happened to their heart.

"The almighty dollar is more important? That's wrong. That's a sin. It may not be against the law, but to me that's a sin," she said.

A spokesperson for FPI Management said the property will be significantly renovated and unlivable during construction for safety reasons. The company also said the owners made offers to residents to provide financial assistance with relocation even though they have no legal obligation to do so.

After the renovation, the apartments will be leased at market rate prices to qualified applicants.

Banuelos estimates that could cost upward of $3,000, whereas most tenants pay an average of about $1,600 in rent. He said although it may be legal, that doesn't make it right.

"It's not humane," he added. "Just because people have a little more power than we do doesn't mean they can just go around evicting people out of their homes."

Banuelos and other tenants said they plan to meet with Redwood City officials on Thursday to discuss city ordinances surrounding rent control.