MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The company that owns the Peppertree Apartments in Whitehaven wants a federal judge to intervene against recently filed nuisance action. Now, the people who live there will have to wait a little longer to know what’s next.
The District Attorney’s office says new documents filed on behalf of the owners of Peppertree puts things on hold for now. The documents filed ahead of a hearing Thursday morning say the nuisance injunction violates the company’s obligation to provide housing.
“We can’t take part of anything that’s going to impact our legal obligations with HUD, our contractual obligations with the federal government but also our obligations in the fair housing act,” said attorney Alexander Wharton. “The city and state can’t do that either, and that’s what we raised in our complaint.”
The DA’s office filed the nuisance paperwork last month, citing reports of nearly 1600 calls to police at the apartment over the last 20 months for shootings, assaults and drugs. They say these latest filings delay their ability to help.
“It’s not a delay we want. We don’t like being patient, especially given how long this history is and the fact we’re talking about violence and crime affecting families and people,” said District Attorney Paul Hagerman.
“It’s not a delay tactic because, to the contrary, this hurts my client for the ability, as you heard the court say, to accept new tenants,” Wharton said.
Attorneys for Peppertree say the nuisance also affects the growing list of people on a waiting list for affordable housing, while current residents say they’re in fear of losing the only home they know.
“I have to live where I have to live,” one resident said. “I hope they don’t close or tear it down or make us leave, because where am I going to go? I’ll be homeless and I don’t want that.”
As this unfolds in court, everyone asks for patience.
“By law this court has to be patient, we have to be patient, and the people in Whitehaven have to be patient,” Hagerman said. “But we’re not stopping, and at some point we’re going to ask this court for a hearing to close this apartment complex.”
The judge ruled to keep the temporary injunction in place until a federal judge can hear the new motions. The case has been assigned to a judge, but a date hasn’t been set yet.