Arizona Daily Wildcat
Families lament loss of community, security
Last night - six months after the discovery of toxic mold in some apartments - UA's Christopher City closed for good.
However, former residents are still concerned by a loss of community and by how they were treated by the university.
The boarded up apartments and overgrown shrubs left at Christopher City, 3401 N. Columbus Blvd., may be all that is left there, but the financial struggle is not over for many students, and others have concerns about the quality of life in their new homes.
Many residents said they feel they are moving to places that are either not as safe, too expensive or not big enough.
One family of six has moved into a one-bedroom apartment that is more expensive and much smaller than their former apartment at Christopher City.
Others did not face the same financial troubles but were still not sure how the loss of community would affect their families.
"I don't know if this situation is fair, but this place was safe and quiet, and the kids could play alone and be OK," said Carlos Alcala, a wildlife and fisheries sciences graduate student and a former resident.
Alcala is moving out of his three-bedroom apartment into a smaller apartment that rents for an estimated $300 to $400 more each month.
Alcala said he should have received more money from the university but would not protest the amount he received because he needs to support his family.
"When you know what it is like to live in this community, it is really sad to lose neighbors," he said.
Even though most people are moving, one resident does not want to give up his protest against the UA.
Jake Elkins, an urban planning graduate student planned last night to move into the Columbus Wash, next to the apartments. He has put his belongings into storage and plans to bring only a sleeping bag to keep him company for a week.
Elkins said the UA has treated the students unfairly by not informing them of the rights they have as relocated tenants.
He plans to live in the wash for a week and stand on the corner of Fort Lowell and Columbus Boulevard holding a sign that says "families before housing."
He will then move to the front lawn of the Administration building where he will begin a hunger strike.
Although some families say they are going to try to get more money from the UA, Elkins said he is not interested in money.
By relocating the residents, the community feeling has diminished, and that is why he is the only person participating in the strike, Elkins said.
Sharon Kha, UA spokeswoman, said the university handled the situation well, despite the poor circumstances.
"I am convinced that the UA did everything they could to help these families," Kha said.
"The UA recognizes how precious the community neighborhood meant to the residents," she added.
It was this recognition that was behind their door-to-door approach over the summer, said Kha.
The UA dealt with each family on an individual basis, and in July, officials began knocking on doors and calling apartment owners.
After UA Residence Life checks for leftover belongings on Tuesday and finishes cleaning up, the next stage will be cleaning up asbestos and then beginning demolition.
The UA will begin construction of a new apartment complex on the same property after the demolition.