About 150 low-income tenants could face homelessness after their nonprofit landlord abandoned the property last month.
SHARE Village, formerly known as Veterans Village, has not paid rent since August for the building it leases at 1150 Las Vegas Boulevard South and owes thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes and services, a recently filed lawsuit states.
The corporation, whose CEO is local affordable housing entrepreneur Arnold Stalk, is listing its three other properties for sale.
“SHARE’s abandonment of the Leased Property will leave hundreds of its tenants stranded without the shelter and essential services they contracted for,” wrote attorneys for YSBM Investments LLC, which owns the building, in the complaint filed last month.
Last month, Stalk sent tenants a message that he was still struggling with the long-term effects of COVID-19.
“This is not an easy situation or decision for me, but I can no longer do this at that property,” he wrote.
The YSBM attorneys are expected to ask a judge on Tuesday to appoint a management company to take over the services that SHARE promised its vulnerable tenants.
Otherwise, they will be forced to leave. The situation is especially gutting for tenants who have struggled during the pandemic and face mental and physical ailments.
“It’s kind of like you’ve been hit in the face,” said Scott Hanofee, who moved into what was then Veterans Village in 2014 after months on the streets. “He left us high and dry, and he was gone like a puff of smoke.”
Termination of lease
The first sign to residents that something was amiss came when the donations stopped. Then the services, such as a food pantry and medical transportation, were not provided anymore. They no longer had access to the common area, which had a full stove.
The tenants, who are on a fixed income, said they rely on those benefits to help make ends meet.
Not to worry, Stalk assured residents in his message. There would be a smooth transition of management to YSBM, the owner of the property the nonprofit has rented since 2011.
But notes left on tenants’ doors Friday said that was not true: YSBM is not licensed to operate the residence hotel, nor does it have the resources.
District Judge Susan Johnson is expected to decide Tuesday whether to appoint a professional to take over and provide management, services and maintenance at the property until the case is resolved.
“We pray that the Court understands your situation and will appoint this professional to immediately take over operations at SHARE Village 1 and normalize your living arrangements,” YSBM told residents.
SHARE vacated the Las Vegas Boulevard property Sept. 8 with two weeks’ notice to the owner. Stalk had just signed a three-year lease that began July 1 and set a monthly rate of $26,220.36.
The nonprofit now owes two months’ rent and more than $54,000 in taxes and services, court documents show.
In a phone interview Monday, Stalk told the Review-Journal that he could not comment on the legal issues but said that the owner has run the property before.
He said that he hired a property manager for his three other properties, which house about 400 residents, and that he is in talks with Las Vegas officials and other entities to keep the buildings as affordable housing after they’re sold.
“I would never do anything to hurt anyone,” Stalk said. “I’ve done just the opposite my whole life.”
‘This is home’
Inside her studio apartment at Share Village 1, Cecelia Knapp moved one of the hot plates she cooks dinner on. Next to it, was an air fryer. It was the only kitchen she had since the common room closed.
She washed her dishes in the bathroom sink as her Shih Tzu, Mighty, bounced at her feet.
Knapp, 79, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and cannot drive. She said she often takes the bus to the Dollar Store to get groceries. Her rent is $675 and she gets about $1,100 from Veterans Affairs and Social Security.
She’s been looking at rents elsewhere, but the sky-high market would make it impossible to move.
“This is home, the only one I know,” she said. “If I can’t be here, I’ll have to pack up and go to the Shade Tree.”
SHARE was first formed in the 1990s and stands for supportive housing and resources for the elderly.
The nonprofit offers year-round crisis intervention centers, medical and mental health services, employment training, nutrition programs and more as part of the nonprofit’s public-private partnerships.
YSBM said it is not equipped to provide those resources and is suing SHARE for unpaid rent, utilities and fees.
But Stalk’s attorneys, John Naylor and Todd Kennedy, said in court documents that YSBM has no damages from the early termination of the lease because the facility generates adequate cash flow.
A court-appointed manager, or receiver, is an extreme remedy that should be used sparingly and would be more costly, they argued, adding that YSBM is the party in the best position to oversee the property it owns.
“All that is left to do is determine what money damages, if any, Plaintiff is entitled to under its breach of lease claims,” the attorneys wrote.
Meanwhile, residents say they were kept in the dark throughout the entire process.
One tenant, Elmer Harmon, emailed Stalk to ask what was going on. Another tenant had a leak in her bathroom, and she could not shower, he said.
“A lot of people are worried because no one has the courtesy to tell us anything,” Harmon wrote. “I don’t want to end up on the street. I’m 72 years old. It’s not only me, you have handicapped residents here.”
In response, Stalk referred him to YSBM owner, Yair Ben Moshe.
“I nearly died of COVID-19 last October and I have COVID-19 long haulers syndrome now,” Stalk said. “After all that I poured into that property I get emails like this. Do not call me anymore.”