Amanda Carvin-Pitluck and other residents at the Mariposa Townhomes in Medford are shocked at rent increases of 40 percent that could leave many without a place to live.
"I'm really lost, and my stomach is just sick over this," said the 52-year-old part-time caregiver who will see her monthly rent jump from $645 to $915. "I'm having ongoing nightmares of having to live under a bridge."
Carvin-Pitluck and other residents, many elderly, aren't sure what they're going to do as they get priced out of the 101-unit complex on State Street in southeast Medford.
CPM Real Estate Services Inc. sent a letter to the residents Nov. 27 stating, "Today, you will receive official notice that your rents will increase substantially beginning March 1, 2018."
The property was sold to Deluca Revocable Trust Sept. 18 for $6.45 million, according to Jackson County property records.
Ronald Deluca, owner of the apartments, stated on the CPM webpage that the buildings had a lot of deferred maintenance and needed significant upgrades.
"Mariposa Townhomes rents were hundreds of dollars below local market value at the time of purchase," Deluca stated. "Although not what most want to hear, the reality of purchasing a property in this market is that costs continue to rise in all areas. At the price I purchased the property, it is necessary for me to get the rent closer to where the market is."
Matt Stranahan, the new manager of the Mariposa Apartments, said CPM is trying to work with tenants who will have trouble with the rent increases.
"It's definitely rough, and we really empathize with our tenants for the amount," Stranahan said.
A lot of renters are on a fixed income or on a federal voucher program, he said.
To make it easier for the tenants, CPM has agreed to waive application fees for other apartments, he said. The owner of Mariposa also agreed to knock up to $50 off the new rent prices for existing tenants, Stranahan said.
Some renters could be relocated into other less expensive apartments in the complex as another option, Stranahan said.
The new rents reflect the changing market for apartments in the valley as well as low vacancy rates, he said.
"It's a real crunch, and the owner decided these are the rates for his business decisions and for a return on investments," Stranahan said.
Donna Peters, a 63-year-old caregiver who works 30 hours a week, said she will have to find a different place to live but isn't sure how quickly she can find a new apartment based on requirements for her low-income government housing voucher.
"I'm having a bunch of anxiety over it," Peters said. "I can't live in my car."
She said she would have moved out a long time ago if she realized the Mariposa was up for sale.
Peters said she estimates that about 50 residents of the complex probably can't afford the new rent.
Another neighbor, Maggie Heidenreich, said her rent will jump from $750 to $1,075, slightly less than what a new tenant would pay at $1,105.
While many residents have a month-to-month lease, the 74-year-old said her lease fixes her rate at $750 until next August.
She said many of her elderly neighbors will see rents jump dramatically, and they've sought help from organizations but haven't received any favorable news.
"What we're finding is that nothing helps," she said. "Where will we go?"
Heidenreich and most other residents say they love their apartments and find the neighborhood safe and comfortable, particularly while walking their dogs at night.
A 93-year-old neighbor has lived in his apartment for 30 years. "What's going to happen to him?" Heidenreich said.
Janelle Earnshaw, who has lived at Mariposa since September 2015, said in addition to the rent hike, a black mold outbreak at her apartment has raised her anxiety to the panic level.
"This can kill me," she said. "The black mold is lethal."
Afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the 60-year-old said she has been dealing with a broken refrigerator since Nov. 6 in addition to the mold problems that have plagued her the last two winters.
Wiping her hand over condensation near her front window, she said, "Oh, God, look at the black mold."
Stranahan visited Earnshaw's apartment Wednesday and suggested she adjust the temperature up or down to change the "dewpoint" inside the apartment so condensation wouldn't form.
Later in the day, he told the Mail Tribune that the buildup of humidity in Earnshaw's apartment may be attributable to the refrigerator.
"The owners are paying for a new fridge," Stranahan said.