About 75 Mayflower Manor residents showed up with questions for federal housing officials Thursday evening, only to be disappointed when no one from U.S. Housing and Urban Development attended the tenants’ monthly meeting as scheduled.
Tenant council President Marilyn Bobo said no one from HUD bothered to say they weren’t coming, and no one returned numerous phone calls she made to confirm who would attend.
Residents were hoping to learn more about the city of Akron’s plans, announced last month, to renovate and redevelop the 16-story downtown building. More than 250 tenants, who are low income and disabled or elderly, would have to move.
“We are going to get through this together. We have to stick together and fight for the same things we have here,” Bobo said. “We want the same amenities to transfer to wherever we go.”
Bobo said she wants the same bus service — buses run every 15 minutes in downtown Akron. She doesn’t want to be in a place where she has to wait for a bus that only runs once an hour.
“I don’t pay for electricity. I don’t want to have to pay for electricity,” she said.
Residents in the audience agreed, many saying in unison: “Me, either.”
Bobo said it’s not what you do, but how you do it.
“I call this ‘home invasion.’ We didn’t invite them in to invade our space and uproot us,” she said. “It was a slap in the face to find out about having to move out by reading it first in the newspaper.”
Bobo said the city has not purchased the building and there is no set plan on what will be done, so Mayflower residents do have a little time in their favor.
The city has said residents would have at least 18 months to relocate.
Dan Bell, 56, who has lived at the Mayflower for 20 years, said that timeline is the only good news for residents.
“I have roots here and need time to get used to a new place,” he said.
Pat Marr, 69, who has lived in the building for 11 years, described the Mayflower as a big, happy family where people care about each other.
“I’m too old to move,” she said. “Besides, my son said if I move again, he’ll need a semi to move me.”
Claudia Toney, 65, said she didn’t understand why there is never any mention of the Mayflower’s historic status — it dates to 1931 — and its ties to Dr. Bob, who founded Alcoholics Anonymous. Many annual conferences were held there.
Bobo said the residents need to be reassured about where they are going because right now there isn’t enough housing in Akron, and she refuses to move to Cleveland.
She suggested a letter-writing campaign to city, state and federal officials.
“We can’t leave any stone unturned,” she said. “We have to stick together.”
Bobo said there is “power in this house.”
“We have over 300 people who live here,” she said. “We have a voice. If you want to be heard, you need to register to vote so you can have a say in things.”
Bobo urged attendance at the city Planning Commission meeting, 9 a.m. March 15, and the next Akron City Council meetings, 7 p.m. March 18 and 25, at 166 S. High St.
Ironically, as you enter the Mayflower Manor, there is a sign in a window: “Now Accepting Applications for 1 & 2 bedrooms” with a phone number to call.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.