MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The relocation of families at the Peppertree Apartments continues after federal housing regulators pulled funding from the owners and shifted it to residents to find new places to live.
It’s been a slow process, but WREG Investigators have learned the city is now offering landlords cash incentives to lease to Peppertree residents.
During a recent environmental court hearing, where Peppertree continues to answer to code violations, attorneys for the city said only six out of more than 200 families have been relocated.
At the current pace, attorneys for the city said it might take until the end of the year for HUD to relocate all the families.
The attorneys told WREG the HUD-led relocation involves multiple steps for the tenants. They also told the judge some landlords were refusing to rent to families because they lived at Peppertree.
It appears the city is hoping to encourage more landlords to rent to Peppertree residents with the help of a cash incentive.
Through a partnership with the City of Memphis, the Memphis Housing Authority, which is assisting HUD relocation efforts, is offering $1,500 incentive payments to new and current property owners who lease a unit to a Peppertree family in Shelby County.
A spokesperson for MHA said the agency also recently hosted a housing fair to connect more families with landlords and since that event, have seen an increase in families starting the process.
The fair was held at the end of March and MHA said more than 400 participants attended, along with more than 40 landlords.
The spokesperson says they are currently working on a date to schedule another housing fair.
HUD terminated its contract with Peppertree’s owners in January due to back-to-back failed inspections and a “failure to fix the deficiencies identified in those inspections” as indicated by records obtained by WREG.
According to MHA, there were 213 families housed at Peppertree at the time the relocation started.
The NewsChannel 3 Investigators have learned 185 residents have been issued vouchers. Federal court records indicated once a tenant receives a voucher, the relocation process would take roughly 120 days. It’s unclear where families are along that four-month timeline.
MHA explained that relocation includes a two-step process. The first is a Request for Tenancy Approval and the second is a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract that eventually leads to a voucher.
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The RTA is a form, required by HUD that the family provides to the owner/landlord. The owner completes the form with unit-specific information and the family returns the completed form to the Housing Authority. This allows MHA to calculate rent and draft a HAP contract which is the next phase. A spokesperson says the RTA is not a lease, but the landlord must
The HAP contract serves as an agreement between MHA and the owner of the unit. It’s how the landlords will get reimbursed on behalf of the tenants living there on a voucher.
According to MHA, as of May 11, 2023, there were 61 RTAs that had been received for leasing consideration.
Attorneys for Peppertree are scheduled to be back in Shelby County Environmental Court Thursday, May 18th to provide an update on the relocation as well as recent vandalism problems on the property.