GALLAWAY, TN (abc24.com) – Problems have been surrounding the Gallaway Housing Authority for years. Even new management has not been able to stop them.
The latest trouble stems from a battle over raised rents. Some housing authority residents are worried they’ll wind up out in the cold.
Many residents feel nobody cares where they end up, that they are being asked to pay too much for government housing and they simple can’t swing the payments.
“The rent is too high,” said Jeff Gilchrist, “nobody can afford to stay here no more.”
Gilchrist has lived at the Gallaway Housing authority for several years; his feelings seemed to prevail among housing authority residents, despite new management.
“He’s outrageous,” said housing authority resident Phoebe Hurt, “just going up on rent, trying to put people out.”
But, Brian Harris said that is not true.
“We looked at the income and family composition of every family there in order to ensure their rents were calculated correctly,” Harris said.
Harris works for the Martin Housing Authority, which was contracted to straighten out Gallaway.
“The reasons why we’ve gotten involved is because HUD and the board have asked us to step in and to fix the problems that are there.”
But that is not good enough for some residents.
“He ain’t trying to fix nothing,” said Hurt.
“I don’t even have hot water in my house,” Gilchrist told abc24.com.
Harris admits maintenance has been an ongoing problem and said they are in the process of finding somebody to take care of it. But for now, it is raised rents making people hot.
“I’ll probably end up leaving,” said Gilchrist, “because I can’t afford to pay.”
Hurt claims eviction notices have been sent out regularly.
“Some people got two, three days to get out,” claimed Hurt.
“I think he’s trying to get all the blacks out,” Gilchrist said.
Harris denied that and said a federal formula is used to determine rents, and that he has no ability to change that formula.
“We follow the law,” Harris told abc24.com, “we follow the regulations and apply it universally across the board.”
Harris informed abc24.com that HUD has designated Gallaway as a “troubled” agency; Martin is “high performing” and charged with bringing Gallaway into full federal compliance.
Harris admits that is not easy or popular, but necessary- and significant progress has been made.