St. Catherine's tenants circulate petition to keep apartments open

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tenants of St. Catherine's Apartments, the former hospital-turned-rental property that will close by Feb. 1, are requesting the owner work with them to keep the facility open.

Jane Ruth Johnson, who has lived at St. Catherine's since 1999, has written and is circulating among residents a petition that recognizes St. Catherine's vital role in providing "non-discriminatory" and "adequate, reasonable rental properties" for the McCook community.

Johnson said the goal of the petition is to implore owner Jerry Romanoff of Newark, N.J., to keep the apartment complex open.

Johnson is frightened by the prospect of 22 households needing to find new homes when McCook's rental property inventory is low or extremely tight for families, low income, federally-subsidized housing, mentally/physically disabled, smokers or those with pets. Twenty-two of St. Cat's 46 units are rented.

Tenants received notice Monday, Nov. 30, that Romanoff intends to close the complex by Feb. 1, due to financial challenges associated with keeping the 86-year-old four-story red brick structure safe and operating efficiently for the past 10 years. "I don't know of any other owner who would have tried harder or as long to keep the apartments open," said Val Kircher, who with her husband Mike manage the apartments through their business Coldwell Banker Kircher and Associates Realty of McCook.

Johnson said she has faxed the petition to Romanoff. Val Kircher said this morning she acknowledges receipt of the petition.

The Kirchers and their staff are working with residents to find alternative living arrangements, as is Barb Ostrum, coordinator of the McCook office of Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska.

Ostrum asks landlords with available rental properties to call her office, (308) 345-1187; or Rebecca Dutcher at McCook Housing Authority, (308) 345-3605.

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  • How can the owner keep a place open when he can't afford it?? Do the tenants want him to pay for it all and lose money?? Would they consider losing money for something they are doing?? It doesn't make sense to try to keep it open like this. Time to find other places to live.

    -- Posted by edbru on Fri, Dec 4, 2009, at 12:25 PM
  • Maybe if the residents stepped up and helped pay for the other utilities, it might work???

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Fri, Dec 4, 2009, at 2:37 PM
  • Good idea Rural Citizen. Pay for the utilities like everyone else has to. That would help, but at this stage, it has gone too far for it to help.

    -- Posted by edbru on Fri, Dec 4, 2009, at 8:09 PM
  • i would like to make a comment on this statement for all who says we should pay our bills like the rest well for one we pay our bills if the owner would of done what he was suppose to have done and fixed the windows the heat would of not costed him so much he got a grant three yrs ago to do so and in paper it stated he was looking for a grant for a yr and half and the public wouldnt help. thats a lie. where did the money go from the grant. and to say there is new plumbing updated where and new electrically done where if u would walk in the apts and look then u can ask ur self what has been done the keep this place open we have suggested to make our rent higher and make us pay our own cable to keep it open and make it easier on the owner but when u have bout ten apts that r able to be rented along with the 22 apts rented and u know for a fact that u have sent people down to fill out apps to move and and they get turned down and then u hear that the owner has not been able to fill those ten apts well if he would of filled other apts and not made excuses i think it all would of been fine. with alittle help from the tenants and the owner we could of helped bring the apts together they never asked so to say that we should of done more is a over statement they should of done more to keep the heat and money from going out the windows the community only hears the one side of story y dont u go to the apts and talk to tenants i am sure u will get a ear full of stuff that not even the owners would want u to know then see what u would say

    -- Posted by dolphins1969 on Sat, Dec 5, 2009, at 11:03 AM
  • dolphin, I'm sure he'd be willing to sell it to you and you can try to make a go of it.

    -- Posted by norm on Sat, Dec 5, 2009, at 11:18 AM
  • Maybe he'd be willing to, if said tenants paid all the utilities, he'd probably keep it open, if he can increase the prices of rent...I think it's a total steal for 310 with all the luxuries others struggle to have...Would you be willing to have it stay open with a slight increase in what you pay for such services? Yeah....I didn't think so...

    -- Posted by marlin on Sun, Dec 6, 2009, at 10:12 PM
  • Uh, marlin? I know that it's hard to read dolphin's paragraph, but if we take whatever he said as true, then the tenants HAVE suggested that the owner increase their rent and such. Please read other comments first, even if it requires a lot of squinting.

    -- Posted by bjo on Mon, Dec 7, 2009, at 12:02 PM
  • bjo, maybe you should have read it all, then maybe you would have "got" why I question if they'd be able to pay more...let me simplify for you!

    As Dolphin, the article and others stated, many of said tenants are on a FIXED INCOME(crazy how many times that was brought up in all the talk of this whole ordeal huh!) So, there for, when they struggle already(not paying on time, I have known people who lived/grew up there and many of them were very poor and fall months behind) how the hell can they afford to PAY more...where do they get extra money from their fixed income(welfare, SS, disablity, etc)? I'm not saying all of them are "broke", "poor" or any of the sort, I'm just saying I know what's plagued that place for years...maybe they should have gotten rid of cable and other petty "wants" and give them what they NEED. That's the problem with the way "help" and "handouts" work these days...I could go on and on with that..but I'd rather not waste my time...

    -- Posted by marlin on Mon, Dec 7, 2009, at 5:42 PM
  • Rather that respond to each individual person who has commented, I would like to express my truth the best I can at this point.

    First of all, St. Catherine's is an older building, but let me tell you, I feel safe here in any storm because it has withstood the test of time and sometimes newer is not better. St. Catherine's has a special grace just like her namesake, St. Catherine of Siena who only lived to be 33, was self educated and yet called the Doctor of the Church. She was the youngest of 25 children and at age 19 considered herself married to Jesus for life. She is well known for her many letters. She is almost always pictured with a rose.

    Secondly, I am on a fixed income, Social Security Disability. I have a BS in Marketing Teacher Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I was a restaurant manager, for Perkin's and WR Grace, COCO's and others before becoming disabled. I have never been late on my rent. I do get housing assistance, but I pay $450 for a 3 bedroom apartment that is 1300 square feet of beautiful home at 1200 West 4th Street.

    Thirdly, there is a dimension that has not been told when mentioning St. Catherine's. In the time that I have been a resident, I have seen people come and go. I have also seen people come and GROW. Because St. Catherine's is a community

    unto itself, tenants seem to get to know each

    other and help each other out. There have been a LOT of individual victories that have been

    celebrated over the years. People's lives saved physically, mentally, emotionally and

    spiritually. Many of these people are craving a chance to gain more stability and St. Catherine's affords that possibility.

    Fourthly, My major concern in this whole situation is that the owner, Jerry Romanoff and the management company, Coldwell Banker and the residents all seemingly want the same things don't they? And so, let's not give up before the miracle happens or ignore the miracles that already HAVE happened... like people staying sober who could never stay sober and people who couldn't walk, learning to walk again after being in a coma and people who used to have to go to the mental hospital every 3-6 months for crisis intervention are going back to college. People's lives are being changed... People who used to bury themselves in a computer are actively involved in people's lives and going to seminary. So, maybe the point is that instead of every person being in this for themselves(?) maybe it is time for us to take on a new Chairman of the Board, a Higher Power who creates a majority with His vote alone. God is bigger than any problem at St. Catherine's and after all, that is what this started out to be about in the first place. I think it is about time to give a chance to an inter-disciplinary team that can bring all parties together to find a solution that includes God and the Community. Is there anyone else that hears me or believes that there is a SOLUTION!?! And the solution is With God ALL things are possible!!

    I challenge EVERYONE, and I do mean EVERYONE to join me in doing what we do best in this country. Support Jerry Romanoff and Val and Mike Kircher at Coldwell Banker in providing DELUXE affordable housing, without discrimination in a safe, secure facility.

    The first way you can make YOUR VOICE heard is HERE... Sign up and support St. Cats

    I have lived in Aurora, CO; Minneapolis, MN; Omaha, NE; and Lincoln, NE. Quite frankly, I have never received more VALUE for my dollar anywhere than here. And for anyone that says that St. Catherine's is in disrepair, I challenge you to come visit me at St. Catherine's in apt #214 and then go out and look for apartments in the community that would provide similar amenities.

    Before you make out your Christmas list, think of St. Catherine's and let's put our hearts and minds to work for the common good.







    Let's remember With God All Things Are Possible

    Jane Ruth

    -- Posted by Janeruth on Mon, Dec 7, 2009, at 10:04 PM
  • Again, marlin, from the sounds of dolphin's post, it sounds like they have volunteered to give up those petty "wants" in order to ensure that they have a home there. Maybe not all of them collectively, but some of them most likely have. Also, I get that some of them might be on fixed income and therefore might not be able to pay more. However, they're definitely going to have to pay more either way. I might be wrong, but St. Catherine is probably the cheapest apartment complex in town, if not one of the cheapest. They'll have to pay more either way, but if I were in their shoes, I'd rather pay more to stay where I'm at than deal with the hassle of moving.

    You'll have to forgive me for calling you out, marlin, but you're sounding rather callous towards people who are being forced to leave their homes.

    -- Posted by bjo on Tue, Dec 8, 2009, at 11:50 AM
  • Out of curiosity, I called several landlords who had homes and/or apartments to rent. Amazingly enough, I found 2-3 bedroom homes for rent for $225 up to $375. No these were not mobile homes, but actual homes. Granted, there were some that were in the upper $400's and $500's. I also found 9 available right now - as of Tuesday PM. Can you honestly tell me that these people can't find affordable living elsewhere? There are sources for these people to find homes. You just have to look for them, make the calls and get one. It is sad to see St. Catherine's closing, however it's a money pit. Can you expect someone to keep it open just out of the goodness of their heart when they are losing loads of money each month? I don't think any one of those residents would keep a business open under the same circumstances.

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Wed, Dec 9, 2009, at 7:52 AM
  • Precisely my point rural.

    They don't want to lose the "freebies" they have(cable, etc) they can get housing for the same costs they pay now, they just won't have the "wants", just the "needs".

    If anyone could honestly ask someone to keep throwing away their money in a pit, as you've all put it, 'times like this' then you're callous to that persons hard work and what they've done for themselves as well as what they've already done(lost) for keeping the building open...

    -- Posted by marlin on Wed, Dec 9, 2009, at 11:10 AM
  • Well I don't personally Know any one from the apartments. That being said it is going to cost these 22 family at least 1,200.00 per family to relocate. An how are those on a fixed income going to pull that off. Not only do they have to find a new place to live they have to pay deposits on every thing. There gas,water,electric those are just the main one's that you have to have to run a house. An let's face it Barb is only going to be able to do so much for theses family's. So I challenge the people who seem to think this is going to be easy to go to the apartments meet one family an find out what there income is. An then you Go out a try an find a place that is the size they need, Then check an see what it would cost to get all the utility's on. An then you will see why it is so impossible for some to have to move. So all I'm asking is before you judge these 22 family's maybe you should go walk a day in there shoes .

    -- Posted by tara on Fri, Dec 11, 2009, at 8:52 AM
  • If it is only one or many, it is the same thing. One family that is displaced has to find housing and so do all the others. It is no different for any of them. I had to do the same thing a long time ago. It's no different now. You have to look and find housing. What is so wrong with what happens in life. People have to remember one thing. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    You have to pay for what you want.

    As someone previously said, get the Catholic church to do something. They have a large bank account. They did pay off all the families with abused and molested children to the amount of $600 million dollars. I can say this because I DO NOT BELONG TO THIS CHURCH since this happened. It's a shame to cover things up. But see what type of funds they can help with.

    -- Posted by edbru on Tue, Dec 15, 2009, at 5:39 PM
  • It's just a BIG roach trap anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by ace1965 on Thu, Dec 17, 2009, at 7:05 PM
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