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'Financially, I can't afford that' | Residents of Newport News apartment complex still scrambling over deadline to vacate

Per an injunction filed by the City of Newport News, tenants of the Seaview Lofts apartment building must vacate the property by July 1.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Time is a luxury that Vernette Scarboro can't afford.

At 73 years old, Scarboro helps take care of her wheelchair-bound husband, and older sister inside their three-bedroom apartment at the Seaview Lofts apartment complex near Newport News' City Hall.

But a fast-approaching deadline has her unsure about what's going to happen Friday. 

“I can’t move out alone. I'd have to get a moving company, and financially I can’t afford that. So, I don’t know how this is going to work out," she said. 

Per an injunction filed by the City of Newport News, tenants of the Seaview Lofts apartment building must vacate the property by 9 a.m. on the morning of Friday, July 1.

This Monday, the building's elevator system failed a safety inspection, which led the city to condemn the building over code compliance issues and started a clock of 48 hours before residents would need to vacate the property.

Residents inside confirm that of the two elevators that are supposed to be working inside, only one is even currently operational. 

Scarboro said she hasn't made any plans yet to move because she simply can't given her age, financial and living situation. 

“There are seniors in here worse off than I am. And they’re single and they can’t do anything for themselves, so what are they going to do about these people? You’re just going to put them in some place? That’s not right," she said. 

Mother Cheryl Bowman faces the same uncertainty. 

“We have 48 hours to move, that’s the unbelievable part," she said, adding that many residents won't be able to figure out a new living situation in that little time, or might not be able to afford it. 

Bowman added that it'll be a long night of packing between her and her son, as she moved moving totes into the apartment building Thursday afternoon. She plans to sleep in her own bed but isn't sure where she'll be living afterward. 

“Might have to be a hotel. It’s the holiday weekend, and trying to find an apartment in 48 hours is a no," she said.

Del. Marcia "Cia" Price (D-Newport News), who represents parts of Newport News and Hampton, told 13News Now she is heartbroken over the situation.

"Because no one has to go through this, but also because we had carried legislation this year that would go into effect tomorrow if the governor had signed it instead of vetoing the bill. It would have allowed for localities to have more power to really crack down on slumlords," she said. 

Price believes this highlights a systemic issue. 

"The [Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act] fails to protect tenants who are in this situation to have somewhere to go, to have resources. So, the city is stepping up in any way that it can. But this is really, solely, squarely on the landlord for not doing his part," she said.

Several residents 13News Now spoke with pleaded for the owner of Seaview Lofts to do the right thing. We reached out to him multiple times for comment. We have not yet heard back. 

Wednesday and Thursday, the city offered information packets and housing resources at the nearby West Avenue Library to better assist residents in helping find a new living situation. Workers with the Newport News Department of Human Services are expected to offer another round of support on Friday morning. 

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