About 25 people packed into the Family Outreach office located in a commercial building owned by Eagle Crest Management, AKA Jamie Cherewatti, to strategize a response to sudden eviction notices for all the tenants living in Echo Village Apartments located next door, 24 units of -- by Amherst standards anyway -- affordable housing.
A little less than half the crowd was made up of a (Section 8) tenants and the rest was a fusion of government and non-profit personnel from the Amherst Schools, Amherst Housing Authority, Planning Department, Legal Services and even the NAACP.
Also hard to miss was former Echo Village tenant, who said he was "paid to leave", Motown Benny. Although at one point in the meeting he was asked to stop talking and "get down off his political soapbox."
Motown Benny (Johnson)
The good news was tenants did not have to abide by the 3/31 deadline demand to vacate the premises. But that is the trigger date for Mr. Cherewatti to start legal eviction proceedings in Housing Court, and then of course it's up to the judge to decide.
Eagle Crest claims all tenants can "reapply" for tenancy on April 1st (no foolin) as long as they have moved out by March 31. Although one official reported Eagle Crest must give 60 days advance notice before implementing a rent increase to Section 8 tenants, which he has not done. The management firm has, however, giving notice of "termination."
The really bad news is that Cherewatti can indeed raise the rent and that will price all Section 8 tenants out of the market anyway. Said one frustrated official, "Our hands are tied on so many levels."
Six weeks ago Cherewatti purchased the property, assessed at $2.1 million, for $3 million, and is now raising rents the same 30% or so he overpaid. Just business.
Although, you can't put a price on a positive public image.