AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that tenants will have to leave after their leases expire, but some will have until the end of the year.
Jose Moreno works hard as a jeweler. It’s how he makes ends meet, providing for six kids and his mom in Mexico.
“In Mexico, I couldn’t earn enough money to maintain my family,” Moreno said.
That’s why he came to the U.S. He’s been living at the Old Homestead apartments for a 1.5 years and shares an apartment with a roommate, paying about $700 each. He can’t afford more, for the sake of his family.
"My family is everything. If they don’t eat, I don’t sleep," he said.
But now, with the complex being sold, tenants have to be out by the end of the year, and he is unsure where to go. According to Zumper, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin is $1,539 – more than double what Moreno pays.
“Many times, I can’t sleep because I can’t find an apartment,” he said.
He’s not the only one in this predicament. Ken Purcell has been living at the complex for four years, paying about $1,300 for a two-bedroom apartment. He said he can’t afford the same square footage elsewhere.
“Currently around town, it’s looking about $2,600 is the average,” Purcell said.
The new buyer of the apartment, JCI Residential, said it's potentially starting construction in 2023. Residents say they’ve been offered a month of free rent, but after that, they don’t know where to go.
“I can’t afford to live in Austin after they have us leave in Christmas,” Purcell said.
The tenants are demanding the rest of their rent be waived for the first year and that they receive help with the cost of relocating.
JCI Residential said in a statement:
“JCI Residential is under contract to purchase the Old Homestead apartments and is working with the current property owner to inform residents of potential redevelopment plans, as well as offer lease concessions and other alternative affordable housing options to residents when their leases expire.”
Meanwhile, Moreno and Purcell will continue putting in honest work, unsure if that’s enough to make a living in Austin anymore.
Tanvi Varma on social media: Twitter
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