Tenants at two Memphis apartment complexes relocating

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 8:13 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 6:38 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Christmas approaches and the year winds down, hundreds of Memphis families are unsure where they will live in the next few weeks.

They are caught in between a court battle in one case and a pending sale in another.

“This is evil and it’s wrong for you to just jump up and do this in the middle of a holiday season,” said community activist Karen Spencer-McGee.

Spencer-McGee directed that strong message to Memphis Housing Authority (MHA) leaders who appeared before the city council Tuesday to discuss temporarily relocating hundreds of tenants from the College Park Apartments on Walker Avenue.

She says MHA has done a poor job of communicating with older tenants, who she says have been calling her confused and worried about having to move out.

“I can’t even get anyone down at the Memphis Housing Authority to answer my phone calls,” said Spencer-McGee.

MHA is selling the apartments to rehabilitate them.

“We are truly excited about this opportunity,” said MHA CEO Dexter Washington.

Washington says relocation specialists are meeting one-on-one with tenants to develop a move-out plan.

He says tenants won’t be charged a dime.

“Any deposits or anything that’s required for the move, we cover all of that and any expenses that are related,” said Washington.

He says MHA will help tenants find affordable housing at other MHA complexes. Washington says MHA is also working with different apartments and hotels for short-term rentals, if necessary.

He says there will continue to be a strong connection with MHA once the rehabilitation is complete.

Washington says one of the new owners will be a nonprofit closely affiliated with the housing authority.

However, he agrees MHA could have done a better job communicating to tenants and pledged to do better.

Meanwhile, city officials provided an update on the Peppertree Apartments in Whitehaven, which were deemed a public nuisance because of crime.

The apartment owners and managers sued the city and district attorney in federal court last week to keep the apartments open.

City officials say they will send out letters Wednesday to Peppertree tenants, telling them the apartments are not being closed at this time and that housing assistance will be available if needed.

The city’s chief legal officer said they want the owners to step up and take action to improve safety.

“Our goal is to create a better, safer environment that doesn’t require the tenants to move,” said Jennifer Sink, chief legal officer for the City of Memphis.

As for Peppertree, everything is on hold until a federal court weighs in. But a temporary injunction banning new leases or lease renewals remains in effect.

As for College Park, the sale should be finalized next week, and the first move-outs will start in early January.

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