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Agency Extending Assistance to Donna Flea Market Tenants

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DONNA – A county agency is working to keep people who resided in makeshift apartments at a flea market from becoming homeless.

The city of Donna found out people were living in storage units at the flea market. Those found in violation were given until the end of the month to move out.

Mercedes native, Irene Ramos, faces the obstacle of finding a place to stay come Thursday. As of this afternoon, the streets are her only certain option.

“There are around six or eight people still living here and they don’t have a place to stay either,” she said.

The rows of storage units will return to their intended purpose. Some are already locked up to prevent people from moving back in.

“I used to rent in Weslaco and then a friend of mine told me, ‘You know what Irene, why pay so much money if there’s storage units over there. You can live and you can put your bed, your stove or whatever for $150,’” Ramos said.

Executive director for the community service agency in Hidalgo County, Jaime Longoria, said his office offered assistance for people like Ramos. The expenses are paid through a grant.

“In this particular case, we received a call from the city of Donna even before, as they were going out to visit with the families. We went out and distributed information about this program and we could offer temporary housing. And really it's geared around getting folks out of the elements. And then actually working with our partner agencies to find a more long term solution,” he said.

Ramos tried finding a place but said rent across the Valley exceeded her $250 monthly budget.

“I like it because it’s very cheap, but it’s sad we have to leave,” she said.

Another option off the table for the once migrant farmer was moving with family. Ramos became a stay at home mother to tend to her children; two of her three children moved away.

“Melinda in Dallas, Lino in Charlotte, North Carolina and little Irene in Weslaco,” she said.

Ramos said she doesn’t rely on them for help anymore.

“I have family but like I say, I don’t like to bother them cause they, everyone has their own problems. Marriage or no marriage, I like living by myself. I’m already used to it,” she said.

She said she’ll continue staying at the flea market until Thursday.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to another woman who after three years of living at the flea market, she’ll be living with a relative until she can relocate.

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