Fundraiser looks to raise money for elderly residents of Royals Arms Apartments struggling after rent increases

    The Royal Arms Apartments is an 11-building complex at 420 N. Segoe Road on Madison's West Side. Photo: GoFundMe

    A tight-knit community is coming together to support one another again as Royal Arms Apartments tenants grapple with newfound financial insecurity after the property was purchased and rents were increased significantly.

    In February, residents of Royals Arms Apartments, 420 N. Segoe Rd., on Madison’s West Side were rocked after its new property owner, Les Orosz of Orosz’s Properties, suddenly increased rent. Now, residents are coming together to raise funds for tenants in more dire financial straits.

    After Orosz took over Royal Arms, formerly Karen Arms, residents were given lease renewals with little time to consider with rent increased from 20-40%. Residents protested with the majority coming out to voice their concerns about the sharp increases.

    In the protest, residents sought an extension of lease renewals and a gradual increase in rent instead of 20-40%. Rent was formerly $1,200-1,300 per month including most utilities except electricity under previous ownership. Now, rents have increased to $1,500-1,700 plus monthly heating fees and a $25 flat fee per person under 18 years of age for water and sewage.

    Residents anticipated increases to total around $500 per month.

    Orosz granted them the extension but did not budge on the rent increases. Residents, who are a mix of low income, students, elderly, those with disabilities and on fixed income, were unsure as to how they could keep the community intact.

    “[Orosz] is very obstinate and unwavering on the finances, which is not surprising,” said David Rivera-Kohr, a representative for residents at Royals Arms. “He’s telling people getting back my loan is more important than affordable housing.”

    Rivera-Kohr and other residents planned to start a fundraiser to help tenants now faced with an even tighter budget as some grapple with having to uproot their lives. They started a GoFundMe with the hope of providing a little bit of a financial break or providing funds to relocate for three residents who are struggling to keep up with increased rent.

    John, an 80-year-old United States Army veteran on Social Security and a three-time cancer survivor with chronic health issues, is unable to afford recent increases in rent at Royal Arms Apartments.
    (Photo: GoFundMe)

    The three tenants — John, Beth and Shirley — are all elderly residents at Royal Arms looking for a push to help afford to keep living there.

    John is an 80-year-old United States Army veteran on Social Security, a three-time cancer survivor with chronic health issues and experienced homelessness from 1985-94. He is unable to afford increases and is looking for assistance to move out.

    Beth, who is 75 years old, works part-time at Hy-Vee and is a former nurse and on Social Security. She has lived at Royal Arms for 15 years and feels stuck at Royal Arms because she does not feel capable of moving her possessions or downsizing before she would need to move out. She’s seeking financial assistance to continue being able to pay rent and afford essentials like food.

    Shirley is struggling to continue making ends meet and is seeking financial assistance to move out of Royal Arms. (Photo by GoFundMe)

    Shirley is 78 years old with comorbidities and is taken care of by her daughter, a 51-year-old healthcare worker, as her only caretaker. Shirley and her daughter are struggling to continue making ends meet and are seeking financial assistance to move out of Royal Arms.

    “Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a lot of affordable housing in Madison. A lot of people who are staying essentially said, ‘I looked elsewhere. It’s not really much better anywhere else,’” Rivera-Kohr said. “People who can’t afford rent next year or need help moving out, we want to help them in the short term to provide some relief.”

    The GoFundMe is currently live with the goal of raising one month’s rent for each resident for a total of $4,500.

    The goal is nearly halfway met as of this morning with the intention of raising all funds by the end of the summer.