Renter says she was kicked out for complaining about conditions at apartment

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A renter at Corning Village Apartments told us she went from not having hot water for months to quickly having no water at all.

"Since y'all last spoke to me Friday, the water was completely turned off that night," the tenant said.

She says she got a knock on her door Monday morning and two men told her she was being evicted. She says they didn't giver her any reason or notice.

She says maintenance was roughly taking her belongings out, and the manager wouldn't speak to her about the eviction.

The tenant thinks it all has something to do with a previous story about tenants living without hot water for six months at the same apartment complex. "She said 'Y'all on the news talking? And I said, yes I was," the tenant said.

She says she wasn't the only one evicted from the section eight housing on Monday either.

"Y'all would rather focus on getting people out and throwing their furniture out than fixing the water. That's what you're worried about. You're worried about that instead of what's going on," she said.

We tried to speak with the manager but were asked to leave the property Friday and Monday.

We also reached out to the complex's corporate owner in California, but we haven't heard back yet.

Tenants who spoke with us say the building in the back of the complex has been the most affected by not having hot water. Everyone we spoke with Monday said their water had been shut off over the weekend, but it was restored on Monday afternoon.

These are just some of the many complaints tenants have told us.

A city of Memphis spokesperson said an environmental court summons was issued on Monday to the complex owners for some of the complaints they received.

“This is a serious problem and eventually, our government is going to have to be held accountable for letting these slumlords run rampant across the city of Memphis," said Brad Watkins, executive director at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

Watkins said he hears about issues like the ones at Corning Village Apartments too often.

“Something’s got to be done about this," he said. "This is federal money and this is people living in their homes with their children, living without hot water, which is against state law, massive bed bug issues, plumbing issues.”

But not many of these complaints are actually on record.

We’ve requested the ones made with the city, and the state housing authority says they’ve only received one complaint this year for no hot water.

“How often do you come across these tenants who have this long list of issues but are too scared to report them?" we asked Watkins.

"Almost every day," he responded.

The Frayser complex also has a history of crime. We’ve reported on seven shootings there in the past six years, along with a police stand-off last year.

“These are not apartments people should want to pay to stay over here," said a tenant. "They’re not in good living condition.”

Watkins says renters need to know they have rights, and should form tenant association groups.

“Collectively, they can be safe," he said. "Individually, a lot of times, the landlords exploit that and pick them off one by one.”

He encourages tenants to reach out to him at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center for help as well.

Since 2012, the complex has had three inspections by the state. Their scores have gone down each time but have still been passing.

Here are resources for tenants in Section 8 housing who need assistance:

They’re encouraged to call HUD at 1-800-MULTI-70 or Mid-South Peace and Justice at 901-725-4990.

They can also report issues to the city at 311.

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