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Redevelopments force Waynoka community members out of low-income housing in Binghampton

"The first thing I thought about was my children — security. What are we going to do now?”

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Binghampton residents in the Waynoka community are being displaced as new developments move into the area. Most of the residents in the duplex homes in the Waynoka community have already been forced to move. 

Eric Anthony is a Binghampton resident who now has six months left before he has to leave. 

"The doors are closing and there’s nothing you can do about," Anthony said. "There’s nothing we can do about it."

Anthony has lived in Binghampton’s Waynoka community for seven years, but now he said he received a notice that was "very blunt."

“This is a notice to you all from the new property management," Anthony read from the letter "We will not be renewing you all’s lease.”

These homes are now owned and under renovation by Cameron Ellis of the company WeOffr and managed by WeResi

Anthony has until November to leave. 

“I was devastated," Anthony said. "The first thing I thought about was my children — security. What are we going to do now?”

The homes house residents with low incomes. 

“It’s some people that’s been staying around here for 40 to 50 years," Anthony said. "They had to leave. Some of them left a week later. It’s a good thing to upscale and make the community look better. It’s about time, but ... we’ve been asking for them to upscale our place. I’ve got cabinets in my house that’s loaded with roaches ... My hot water just went off.”

Some residents have turned to the Binghampton Development Corporation, which rents properties to families with low incomes. They are part owners in the new Tilman Cove Apartments currently being built. 

“We’ve reached out to the community at Waynoka Street ... just to be able to reach out once the applications are available,” said Breann Forbes, Binghampton Development Corporation Program Coordinator. “I’ve been trying to work with some residents and connect them to resources … It’s not only losing kind of the house but really getting displaced from the community.”

We asked Anthony if he thinks he'll be able to move back.

“I don’t even have to think about that because I’m not going to be able to afford it,” said Anthony. “I tried to reach out to the guy that bought the place. I don’t have anything against him. Work with us and let us work with you. Have some compassion. You asked me, ‘What am I going to do?’ I don’t know. My grandmother always told me a closed mouth don’t get fed.”

The new owner, Cameron Ellis, issued a statement on Monday:

Since assuming ownership of this community, we have successfully executed over 30 work orders, demonstrating our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for residents. 

In furtherance of this objective, we are allocating a substantial sum of $2 million towards extensive improvements, aiming to transform these units into even more desirable and habitable spaces. Notably, despite the renovations, we remain dedicated to preserving the affordability of these housing options, as projected rental rates following the refurbishment range between $850 and $950. 

As a direct result of our significant investment in this community, we are proud to contribute to the local economy by generating minority employment opportunities within Shelby County.

It is essential to note that the non-renewal of leases for tenants was carried out with considerable advance notice, ranging from 3 to 9 months. This approach was not intended to displace tenants, but rather to allow them ample time to plan accordingly. 

We have taken proactive measures to ensure that the majority of our tenants have been provided with their deposit refunds, regardless of the condition of their units. 

This transparent and proactive approach reflects our commitment to fostering positive tenant experiences and upholding our responsibilities as owners and operators of this community.

As for the Tilman Cove Apartment, there is no date yet on when they’ll be available.

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