Sunrise Towers must prove living conditions up to par, or some renters will be forced out

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Dozens of renters could be forced out because of unlivable conditions. An apartment complex must prove conditions for families have improved, or families will have to find new places to live right before the holidays.

Sunrise Towers in Fort Myers is being held responsible to show its homes are up to par for living standards, or renters will be the ones facing consequences. If the complex doesn’t make the necessary improvements, the City of Fort Myers will brand the complex as unsafe.

“We’ll be out on the streets and then coronavirus is going around,” Johneshia Stevenson said. “I have a newborn baby. My kids have asthma,” Johneshia Stevenson said. “With Section 8, if you get evicted, you lose your voucher, and that’s what they’re trying to do to everybody.”

Three months ago, we showed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development what was happening at Sunrise Towers. That’s the agency that foots the bill for those critical vouchers.

After seeing our reports, the federal government asked the Housing Authority of Fort Myers to re-inspect the property.

Attorney Sawyer Smith represents the landlord.

“Why haven’t these fixes been done before? The fixes are now in place because code went out and let us know what we need to do,” Smith said. “Keep in mind that this is Florida, and sometimes we have a couple of bugs. The owner has known about these issues for years though. I can’t speak to that we are involved and we’re having them fixed.”

Despite the living conditions, people we spoke to are still upset they might need to move. It’s not easy to find a new place to live.

“It’s ridiculous of how many times you have to call them,” Asia Alston said. “They don’t respond back.”

Since 2004, the City has written Sunrise Towers more than 100 code violations. There are 10 more open cases under investigation.

“I hate it here for my kids,” Stevenson said. “It’s not a good environment, all kind of shootings and everything happens out here. It’s not a good place.”

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