Lease termination rescinded for hundreds of tenants in Lowcountry neighborhood

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:42 PM EDT
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, Sc. (WTOC) - An update to a story we brought you two weeks ago - at the time, 350 people on Hilton Head Island had just learned their leases would be ending abruptly and they would be out of a home.

Since then, that threat has been lifted as neighbors received a second notice telling them their leases are safe.

Today, folks are relieved among a lot of other emotions. Two weeks ago, people in Chimney Cove were scared for the future of their families. Today, it was a much different story.

This interview was conducted with the help of a translator.

“We feel good with more time and without all the pressure,” said Doralic and Cecilia Salgado.

Just like the first time, the notice came taped to their door. This time with positive news in both English and Spanish.

“Now I feel much better, especially because my kids didn’t want to move or start new schools,” said Maria Hernandez.

There are around 75 school-age children here who won’t be pulled from their friends anymore or so it seems at the moment.

“We don’t know if this is a permanent thing or if they will be asked to leave again in a couple of months,” said Pastor June Wilkins with Christ Lutheran Church.

Christ Lutheran Church is right next to Chimney Cove and along with the Deep Well Project, they’ve been helping residents since the original lease termination was posted.

The two organizations say they’ve raised almost $50,000, but say the uncertainty moving forward still has them concerned.

“We don’t know if we have three days, 30 days, or 90 days,” said executive director Sandy Gillis with the Deep Well Project.

She’s encouraging Chimney Cove families to continue to look for housing because of those questions... advice some in the area are taking.

“I started looking for another place after the first letter and haven’t stopped because I don’t want to deal with this anymore,” said Hernandez.

On the other hand inside the Salgado’s home, there won’t be packing anytime soon.

“We’re not looking for a new place anymore, we’re happy here and it’s our cheapest option.”

That lack of other options was discussed at a special called town council meeting Tuesday. Strong opinions were voiced, but no permanent solutions were agreed on specifically when it comes to Chimney Cove.

“If we knew what we were dealing with, we could just work so much more effectively.”

When we tried to reach out to the property owner for our story two weeks ago, we got no response but today, his assistant was at that town meeting. She says they feel empathy for the people of Chimney Cove and will wait until a later date to give further comment.