Veteran Helps Evicted Flea Market Storage Unit Tenants
DONNA – A Rio Grande Valley veteran is lending a hand to people living in a flea market. He said he once called the market home.
Veteran Juan Torres said he felt compelled to offer aid to families residing in makeshift apartments at a Donna flea market. He said he knows what it is like to struggle.
Donna city officials discovered people living at the Fiesta Flea Market two weeks ago when someone complained. The residents are being evicted.
Torres said he knows what it’s like living there.
“I lived there for like three months and I left because I just couldn’t stand it,” Torres said.
He said homelessness led him to desperation.
“It gets bad during the summertime. The heat, it gets bad. It’s made out of block brick with a galvanized metal on top. It gets very hot,” he said.
Torres left on his own late last year after living there for a few months.
Interim city manager Ernesto Silva spoke to CHANNEL 5 NEWS earlier this week. He said the flea markets are regularly inspected.
He said Fiesta Flea Market wasn’t a cause for concern at the time of its last inspection.
Torres said he knows people have lived at the site for years. He added it’s no secret the storage units turn into homes at night.
“That flea market has been there for almost 20 years. Everybody knows about that. Everybody knows that when you go there, they’re going to ask you. You’re going to rent a storage unit to live in or to sell out,” he said.
When he found out tenants were being evicted, he decided to lend a helping hand. He’s already contacted several organizations.
“Right now, what we’re trying to do is coordinate some churches, some daycare centers and some private citizens to go out there and see who needs help, who needs to get out right now,” Torres said.
We spoke to three tenants. One said she already moved in with her daughter. Another one said she and her elderly mother will relocate to another place once they finalize where they’ll live next month.
Torres said he’ll continue making phone calls. He hopes to help everyone resettle with what little belongings they have.
Everyone living at the Fiesta Flea Market has until the end of the month to move out.