280 San Bernardino tenants seek new housing as city seeks to close decrepit dormitory

Tenants of an unauthorized apartment building in San Bernardino said the city of San Bernardino was making the situation worse by evicting them from the dilapidated old dormitory.

“The truth is, you have to be a qualified candidate to redeem these resources, so it’s pointless,” resident Angel Villanueva said. “It appears the system is set for failure.”

With rent between $600 and $700 a month and no credit checks required, many like the mother of four only came to the old American Sports University building, many like Villanueva moved into the apartment no authorized last resort.

“It was a last resort and we had to make do with what we had,” Tamara Cantarell said last week.

Villanueva said when her family moved into the old college dormitory three years ago, the building was pristine. However, as more people started moving in during the pandemic, her condition deteriorated. Today, the old dormitory is infested with mice, cockroaches and flies as well as littered with garbage. Additionally, the city found standing water and toxic mold in the building.

Now 280 residents, including Cantarell and Villanueva, are scrambling to find new homes after the city announced it was marking the building red on Oct. 24.

Even though the city has received a temporary restraining order against the landlord, requiring him to pay the costs of relocating his residents, Villanueva fears he and his six children will be forced to live on the streets.

“On October 24, if these programs don’t help us find a place, me, my six children and my wife will be homeless,” he said. “We have absolutely nowhere to go.

However, several non-profit organizations came to a community meeting on Tuesday to help future former residents,

“We have a lot of voices fighting for you guys,” said Kristen, a nonprofit spokesperson.

They also encouraged tenants to apply for their programs as well as take up free food and accommodation vouchers for short-term hotel stays.

“I don’t think any of that is happening to be honest,” resident Max Daniels said. “I think it’s just to appease people for now.”

Despite her best efforts, Daniels struggled to save money to move without 30 days notice.

“If you don’t have food stamps and you don’t have kids, there’s no help for you,” he said. “Even those other people, you put them in a room, but where do you go from there?”

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