Residents facing eviction get holiday miracle

December 17, 2010 3:47:17 PM PST
Soon enough, a local apartment complex will be completely torn down. Everyone who lives there was to get notice to vacate by December 20, some with nowhere to go. Once Eyewitness News got involved, that changed. When we met Amanda Ortega last week, her smile was masked by stress. On Friday, with the promise of a new two-bedroom apartment, she's shocked and grateful at the outpouring of support she's received.

"I want to thank everyone in the community that's helped me, reached out to my family," she said. "I want to say thank you for everything."

The mother of four works full time at Taco Cabana. With no car, she rides her bicycle to and from work every day. She was worried the eviction notice, which gave her 10 days to pack up and move, would leave her and her kids homeless at Christmas time.

But after our story aired, Amanda's and other families living at SkyLane West Apartments off the Katy Freeway got a Christmas miracle.

"My kids are really excited," said Ortega. "They know it's a big Christmas."

The new property owners, Houston Garden Centers, extended family leases through December 29 and gave them each $500 Walmart gift certificates. In an email, the new owner says, "We had no idea that there were children living here."

Neither did Lisa Rose Morrow.

"Just the thought of them not having a place to go a week before Christmas, we thought we could get the community together and get the families from our school together," she said.

Morrow and her neighbors are helping four families who live at SkyLane West to buy furniture, METRO bus passes and food. Their children all attend the same schools. They say it's the least they can do.

"Hoping they can go put deposits down on apartments or pay their utility deposits and get presents for the children for Christmas," said Morrow.

Ortega got more good news Friday. She got a promotion at her job and we have fielded a call from one viewer who is working to possibly give her a car.

But there is another side to this story. Some say tearing down the apartment and making these families move out may be a blessing in disguise. A lot of people are happy to see it go. Neighbors agree the complex is an eyesore and they call it a revolving door for drug-users, gang members and sex offenders.


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