Steve Hudson, 71, is starting to shake. He’s taking multiple showers a day to keep his body cool. Last week, he spent about four days in the hospital with bad anxiety. His doctor told him to get some rest, but how could he?
He’s about to be homeless.
He and dozens of other people who live in apartments at the corner of Oak and Fry streets are being evicted.
“I don’t know what to do,” Hudson said. “I need help.”
In February, the Denton Health and Building Standards Commission gave the landlord 90 days to fix the conditions of the apartments — authorities say ceilings are caving in; some places were without electricity for months; there are mildewed carpets and other issues — or have them demolished. The landlord, Baham “Bobby” Naderi, has picked the latter.
“Nobody wants to help us,” Hudson said.
Hudson and others say the landlord allows just about anybody to live there, so long as he’s getting rent money. But Naderi and others working for Jay’s Properties have over the years declined or at least been slow to make property fixes, residents say.
It is clear, from interviews and from a discussion before DHABSCO board, this problem has festered for many years. But over the course of just a few months, Denton police and other officials decided it was time to do something about the place.
“They’re hurting people,” Hudson said.
To make matters worse, Hudson says, he can’t find an affordable place to relocate in Denton. Every time he tells a new potential landlord where he currently lives, they tell him they can’t rent to him. The property’s reputation precedes what Hudson needs right now, a place to live after about six years living where he is now.
“One unscrupulous landlord like this guy could put a lot of people in a bad place,” said City Council member Jesse Davis.
Naderi eventually hung up the phone when the Denton Record-Chronicle called him for comment. The paper asked what his plans are for his properties. He did not answer the question and inaccurately claimed the newspaper broke the law when it reported where he lives, in a 4,722-square-foot home in southern Denton.
City spokesman Ryan Adams said one demolition permit has been filed for the building at 218 Fry St. It’s still not clear what exactly will happen to the other five buildings. But everybody living in the compound received eviction notices in April.
“Due to many unforeseen circumstances, this property will no longer be able to be an rental facility,” Hudson’s notice reads.
Davis, newly elected from District 3, where the properties sit, said he agrees with DHABSCO’s decision to give Naderi 90 days.
“It’s certainly not a safe place to live,” Davis said.
This week, Hudson will leave behind his furniture, pack up two suitcases and move into the Salvation Army shelter in Denton, he said.
“I’m leaving everything I got,” Hudson said. “Stuff I’ve had since I moved here. My whole life.”
A U.S. Army veteran who was wounded in Vietnam in 1968, Hudson will be homeless.
He’s already been scammed once by somebody promising a room. Hudson said a woman he met at Our Daily Bread charged him $400 to move into a place. But the woman, who is not connected with the nonprofit, didn’t let him move in.
“She ripped me off,” Hudson said.
He gets a little more than $1,000 a month from Social Security. His rent on Oak Street is more than $500 (it went up $100 two months ago, he said) and he pays about $130 for utilities. He gives about $500 each month to his wife, who lives in Florida and is currently homeless.
In Denton, with its two universities and abundance of pricey apartments, it will be hard for Hudson to find another affordable place to live. That’s what makes this situation a uniquely Denton problem.
“There’s no doubt that we have a huge pinch at the low end of our housing market,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get some more apartment units available for folks at that end of the market or it’s going to get worse from this point.”