Relocation for Peppertree Apartment residents to begin next month

Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:42 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Meetings are currently being scheduled between representatives of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and residents of Peppertree Apartments in Whitehaven.

These meetings are to find suitable, alternative housing for these residents, as HUD announced it will no longer be funding Peppertree, stating the apartment complex’s owners did “not provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing.”

The current contract is set to expire on Jan. 14.

“HUD’s relocation contractor will be engaged and will work as quickly as possible and will meet with the residents,” a HUD spokesperson told Action News 5 Friday afternoon. “The meetings are being scheduled and are expected to occur in February. HUD will also be meeting with tenants during approximately the same timeframe.”

Contractor The Leumas Group is who HUD hired to assist in these meetings.

What’s more, the residents will be given Section 8 vouchers, based on qualification, to assist with any added costs that come with moving to another housing unit.

The voucher applications will go through the Memphis Housing Authority and “will review applicant income to confirm voucher eligibility,” the HUD spokesperson said. “Resident subsidy is determined by multiple factors including tenant income, family size, and local rental rates. Voucher payment standards are different per bedroom size.”

For Shelby County Commissioner Britney Thornton, whose district borders the one where Peppertree sits, she has experience with helping residents find Section 8 housing and says this relocation process is easier said than done.

“It’s not easy,” Thornton said. “There’s not a one-stop-shop. There’s not a that you can go to and figure out viable, potential housing opportunities. And so, what does this mean for people? Is it just literally giving people vouchers and having them figure it out for themselves? Or is it someone that’s going to come hold people’s hands and help facilitate the transition?”

According to HUD, the transition sounds like it will be the latter, helping each individual unit.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Chief Legal Officer for the City of Memphis Jennifer Sink said she feels there is space for these hundreds of tenants.

“We have been prepared for a year to relocate them if we needed to because we have been very concerned about the conditions of the apartments,” Sink said. “Yes, I am confident that all of the residents will be able to be rehoused.”

Thornton makes clear that she isn’t opposed to Peppertree shutting down, given the reputation she says it has.

She simply wants to make sure the residents living there are taken care of throughout the whole process.

“It’s a sigh of relief to see support going into a community that has been distressed,” Thornton said, speaking on the news of Peppertree shutting down. “In other ways, it’s a big question mark of what’s going to happen next.”

The county commissioner said her office has been reaching out to community leaders to help “fill in the gaps” when it comes to resources, getting residents what they need for the time being.

The relocation process is expected to take several months, and Sink says Peppertree’s owners are being required to maintain the property during this process.

Once the property is fully vacant, a plan will be drawn up on what to do with it next; but when asked, Sink said “We will reassess at that time.”

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