MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A woman is fighting to stay off the streets after she says a Whitehaven apartment complex is evicting her, even though she was the victim of a crime.
Apartment managers say someone in her unit is being targeted, and it’s all about safety.
“I heard something pop, pop, pop pop pop. I thought it was firecrackers,” Dorothy Young recounts.
Young was describing the sound outside her Whitehaven apartment around 6 p.m. on March 15. They were not firecrackers.
“And I went and looked out the window and so I didn’t see anything. So, my daughter looked out five minutes after me and she says ‘Mom they done shot up your car and they shot mine’s too.’ So, I was wondering who, what and why,” Young said.
When they went outside, Young’s 2015 Kia Sportage was riddled with bullets.
“Windows were broken on the passenger side,” Young said. “The window in the windshield, the back window there was a bullet hole through it. There was a bullet hole also in the patio door at the house.”
She said she could only think about one thing: “What’s going on and why me?”
“Yes, it was very scary, because I had grandkids in the house. One of them could have gotten hit,” she said.
Luckily, no one was hurt by the gunfire, but Young was in for a surprise when she talked to staff at the apartment office the next day.
“After asking me what happened and I told her, she wondered why they targeted only our cars. I wondered the same thing,” Young said.
Young said the apartment managers promised to investigate and get back with her.
They did — but it was with a letter of eviction.
A notice said there were multiple reports of gunfire at her apartment on March 15, resulting in property damage to neighboring units, and unauthorized individuals in the unit in direct violation of the lease agreement. It said she had two days to correct it or be evicted.
Young admits she allowed her daughter to live at her apartment without her name being on the lease, but says that has not been an issue before, not until this shooting.
Then on March 17 came the hand-delivered eviction notice. Dorothy had to be out within three days.
“That was wrong,” Dorothy said. “I shouldn’t have felt like this. I’m the victim. So, why would you tell me to move?”
Young said the complex told her she or someone in her family were the targets, and it put others in danger.
But she said her daughter and two grandchildren live with her, and none of them would have been targets.
Now, on a fixed income and in poor health, she is worried about having no place to go.
“[It’s] very hard because I don’t have the funds. I don’t have the money,” Young said.
We went to the leasing office, and we were told the property manager was on vacation. However, the office does handle the evictions.
“We send over the eviction things over to court and everything,” a person in the property management office told us.
They told us to contact the Elmington Property Management Company out of Nashville. We left messages and emails and are still waiting to hear back.
Attorney Derek Renfroe specializes in real estate law. He said tenants should always refer to their lease for an understanding of what is and is not allowed.
“You have to be fair to everybody. If you got a multi-unit building, you know, you don’t want to put tenant a in danger because of tenant Z, who’s 13 doors away,” Renfroe said. “You know, every bullet, every dangerous activity, can affect you know, other innocent people.”
However, he said everything still has to be proven.
“You do get a court date. And there will be some elements of proof, which could include a police report, could include some kind of counseling conference with the folks at the main office,” Renfroe said.
Young said the apartments haven’t kept up to their end of the lease. She said there has been other gunfire and cars vandalized at this complex.
“I mean, you offered me no type of security when I was, you know, living here. Even when I told you about my truck being vandalized before. We don’t have no type of security. The gate is not even locked. So why me? I feel like I’m the victim,” Young said.
Attorneys said those problems should be addressed early, before eviction.
“They’ve got to probably organize with other tenants approach the management in writing and, you know, in person could be construed in other way. … They could consult with a lawyer or get get their pastor, maybe. But the lawyer will be the first route,” Renfroe said.
Right now, Young has no place to go and is just hoping for some leniency.
“I have committed no crime. Nobody in my household have committed a crime,” Young said.
Young wants to stay where she is until she has the funds to move. She is awaiting a court date on the eviction.