Thursday, September 13, 2007


About twenty five years ago I was living in a cheap apartment with my dog Dakota around 37th and Wyoming in Kansas City. At the time I had just begun working at a local free clinic and was pretty much minding my own business. One day, I came home and found a letter telling me that some large company had bought the building, that my rent was doubling and I had to get rid of my dog or move out...within thirty days. I was pissed. Who wouldn't be. I had a friend who worked at Legal Aid and she assured me I could get an extra thirty days beyond the time the company said I had to go. That was the best she could do.

So I had to move.

It's called I don't have any control over my life.

Well, that is pretty much what is happening to the people in the article below. A big Casino has decided they've got to go in thirty days...and though the people are angry, my money is on the Casino.

Things like this, of course, happen to well meaning folks every day all over this grand country of ours. Little people, even middle class people, often find out out of the blue that they aren't really as free as "they" say. When Mr. Big decides, more often than not, that's that...and our lives are upended sometimes with a "Gee, we really wish there was something else we could have done," but more often with not a word at all.

Meanwhile, back in Vegas, Arrion Burks told the press, why he moved to the Desert Club apartments. "Live right down the street from the Wynn. I work at the Wynn and I pretty much don't have any transportation right now," Burks said.

A commute that only takes a matter of minutes on foot is now about to get much longer.

Burks added, "Hopefully I can find something that's close to the bus line. Buy a bike, you know, do what I have to do always gotta survive."

Surviving at Desert Club was already hard enough.

"My wife is pregnant. She's seven months pregnant, so she can't get another job. I'm the only one that's working. I also have a two-year-old, so I mean it's just been really rough," he said.

Now, his small but growing family has 30 days to find a new place to live. "There was no warning. It was just in the mail. There you go, 30 days. Goodbye," he explained.

Ryan Weeks, another resident, told Eyewitness News, "Ten to 20 people here that work for Harrah's and they're getting kicked out. And what is Harrah's doing for their employees? Nothing."

Big surprise.

The following is from Las Vegas Now Eyewitness News Channel 8.

Apartment Residents Angry Over Harrah's Evicting Them

Hundreds of residents at an apartment complex near the Strip have been told to pack their bags. They have 30 days to move out and just about all of them are putting up a big fight against the property's owner -- Harrah's.

There was a very heated meeting with angry residents and apartment management, with residents demanding answers. Some have lived at the apartments near Flamingo and Koval for years, while others just moved there last month.

Tuesday, they protested outside the Desert Club Apartments. Eventually they got permission to go in a meeting room inside and things did not cool off there. People are furious.

They say Harrah's, the owner of the complex, let them sign leases and is now evicting them with little warning. The casino giant has other plans for the property. Even the management company says last Wednesday's notice came as a surprise.

"We all knew that something would happen one day. The problem is when was that day. We would have loved to have been able to give our people more notice because we certainly knew what the reaction would be," said Barbara Holland, president, H&L realty & Management Co.

"They let me sign a six-month lease from overseas. Now they're going to maintain the six-month lease, or they're going to pay me six months money back, or we'll go wherever we go!" said Antonio Urgese.

That means he plans on getting a lawyer. He just moved here Aug. 23, all the way from Italy, rented furniture, spent a lot of money and now this.

For Stephen Ferris, move-in day quickly turned into an eviction notice.

"By September 30th, we have to move out," he said.

So Stephen joined with dozens of his neighbors at the Winnick Holdings and Desert Club Apartments Tuesday to protest their joint fate.

Harrah's wants to use the land for a new development. So now it's be out by the end of the month -- or be forced out.

Harrah's public relations executive Alberto Lopez came under fire for the eviction plans. "I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart, honestly. I came here for the media," he said.

He and Barbara Holland say all the agreements were clear and made sense.

"It's a big bold print. And people initialed," said Holland.

Those month-to-month policies allowed Harrah's to cancel rentals essentially at any time. But residents like Bret Dunbar want more time. "It's just ridiculous. They can't give us 60 days notice? They obviously knew this was going on for quite some time. Why can't you treat us like human beings instead of garbage?"

"We're going above and beyond what we're legally required to do. I'm not sure what else we can do," said Lopez.

"Legally, maybe they're following the letter of the law, but morally and ethically, we are the people that make this town," said Brett Pearlman.

Tenants like Pearlman feel Harrah's is biting the hand that feeds them. A number of people who live here work at casinos. But Lopez says Harrah's has done all it can.

"So we're following the terms of the agreement that was signed with these tenants. I'm not sure what else it is the tenants might be looking for," adds Lopez.

"Moving expenses. Not only for moving here, but to move back out again," said Stephen.

Meanwhile, Stephen has not even finished unpacking from his first move. His time is running out -- 24 days and counting.

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