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Felicia Sevene: Echo Village new owner has duty to tenants

To the editor:

I was sickened to read in the Gazette that several low-income families and individuals living at Echo Village Apartments in Amherst — 19 of whom receive Section 8 housing vouchers — are being forced out of their homes due to the recent sale of the property to Eagle Crest Property Management (“Housing crunch hits home for many in Amherst,” Feb. 27).

These families, several with school-aged children, were given until March 31 to vacate their homes, and have now been forced into the harrowing position of trying to find suitable, affordable living situations with little advance notice. Once these families have been removed, Eagle Crest, run by Jamie Cherewatti of Amherst, plans to raise the rents in those units by 20 to 40 percent.

It was not that long ago that I was a low-income, single mother living in a rent-subsidized apartment in Amherst. I remember all too well the challenges I faced being poor in a town flooded with wealth, and the constant stress I felt to make the best life I could for my daughter and me under those circumstances.

Had I, at that time, received a letter of eviction as these families have just received, the stress and despair caused by that situation would have had catastrophic consequences. Luckily, that didn’t happen, and our situation turned out quite differently. But my conscience compels me to empathize with and speak up for these families and for their unexpected plight.

Certainly, Jamie Cherewatti has every right to do as he pleases with his own property. After all, he bought it fair and square for $3 million. But we all know that along with rights, a person has responsibilities to his or her community — to humanity. Where is Cherewatti’s humanity in this situation? And what of his conscience? I wonder about the price tag for that.

Felicia Sevene

Amherst

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