NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Nathan Robinson mostly sleeps in his car these days.
“It’s very humiliating being put out,” he said.
Robinson was living at the now-condemned Seaview Lofts apartment building in Newport News, until he, along with about 200 other tenants, were forced to evacuate with two days’ notice at the end of June.
“The first step was shock. Second was survival mode,” Robinson said. “What do I have to put in place for shelter?”
Robinson has a renter’s insurance policy with State Farm, so he filed a claim to help cover the cost of hotel stays for him and his son, as well as food and other costs incurred from being forced out of his home with such little notice.
His claim was denied.
“I feel like I was victimized a second time, and slapped in the face even after paying a year in advance for the policy,” he said.
The denial letter Robinson received said his policy only provides coverage when “a loss insured makes the residence uninhabitable.” It also says no coverage can be extended for the “abandonment” of his personal property. But Robinson says he didn’t abandon his apartment. He was forced out.
“Financially, it has taken its toll. Basically, all my savings are gone and I’m basically doing favors, doing little odd stuff, borrowing, making it day by day,” Robinson said.
A 10 On Your Side Investigation uncovered two years of code violations and failed inspections at the property, which was deemed “unsafe” and “unfit for human occupancy” in March and April. Then, at the end of June, a Newport News city judge ordered all residents to evacuate the Seaview Lofts within 48 hours.
Since then, the building’s landlord has faced court orders to get the building up to code. As of Monday, the building has not yet passed all safety inspections, and residents are still not allowed back in their homes.
In an email, Robinson’s local State Farm agent told us he could not comment on behalf of the company. So we called the State Farm employee who sent Robinson his denial letter. She hung up on us.
A corporate representative for State Farm told 10 On Your Side the company could not comment on specific customer policies, but did send us this statement:
“We empathize with our customer in this difficult situation. In general, for loss of use coverage to apply there needs to be a covered loss (such as a storm, fire, etc.) making the residence uninhabitable. In this situation, we have been working with our customers since their loss and believe we have provided every benefit available to them within their policy.”
As Robinson works to provide for himself and his son, he’s left wondering why his insurance policy — which says it will provide coverage in the event of a bear or deer attack — can’t help him with a frustrating situation which he says is no fault of his own.
“Every day is a chance to do better,” he said.
“So I just take it one day at a time.”