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Mother of two faced eviction despite rent assistance assurances from state

By Jeremy Finley

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    SPRING HILL, Tennessee (WSMV) — A Spring Hill mother of two packed up all her belongings after being told by her landlord she was being evicted after rent relief payments from a state agency didn’t arrive for months.

The mother asked News4 to investigate but requested we not reveal her name fearing retaliation.

The mother lost her job during the pandemic and turned to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency to apply for rent assistance.

According to emails provided to News4 Investigates, the agency approved her application for COVID-19 relief money on June 15, stating that $4,113.70 would be sent to her landlord in the next 7-14 business days.

“You believed the state was going to take care of this for you, right?” asked News4 Investigates.

“Absolutely, absolutely. Tennessee is going to help,” the mother said.

But month after month, the payment never arrived.

The mother provided emails showing that she repeatedly contacted TDHA, writing in August that the rent had not been paid and the check had not arrived.

On Sept. 1, the mother emailed again, writing that she was about to be evicted.

The emails show an agency liaison responded writing, “I thought we had this straightened out, but rest assured, we’ll get this figured out.”

The mother then replied, writing, “I just got served today with a court date.”

At that point she began packing up all of her belonging and contacted News4 Investigates.

“It’s incredibly stressful, and honestly, it makes me feel like a horrible parent,” she said.

In addition to the email, the mother said she also called the agency repeatedly.

“Your case manager won’t email or call you back and the 1-800 number, you sit in a callback queue, and then it rings once when it calls you back and hangs up on you,” she said.

News4 Investigates contacted the THDA requesting an interview, but instead received a statement from Communications Director Rebecca Anderson.

“Thanks to your call, we did some further investigation and found that the landlord had created multiple profiles within our system,” Anderson wrote.

She then explained that the multiple profiles created confusion as how to send the money.

News4 Investigates then asked why a renter had to email and call for months with no solution and if there were problems with the system.

“This situation that you brought to our attention today provides us important feedback to improve our system and processes,” Anderson wrote.

After News4 Investigates’ inquiries, TDHA contacted the mother and said it was overnighting the check to her landlord. The money will cover her back rent and she will now be able to stay in her apartment until her lease is up.

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