Knoxville couple loses home after apartment stops accepting affordable housing vouchers

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — Gaines and Darlene Clabough were forced to move out of their apartment complex after their landlord decided the complex would stop taking affordable housing vouchers.

The vouchers allow individuals and families to get rent discounts if they meet income limits. The government makes up the rent the tenant can’t cover.

“We’ve lived here 17 years,” said Gaines Clabough as he wiped tears from his eyes. “We didn’t hurt nothing, didn’t tear up nothing, didn’t do nothing for us and then come up and tell me to get out and it made me mad.”

Eighty-Four-year-old Gaines Clabough has liver cancer and receives hospice care. Their apartment complex decided they would no longer accept the vouchers after an ownership change.

Darlene Clabough packs up her kitchen.

Without vouchers the Clabough’s rent went from $271 a month to $679 and the couple was forced to relocate to another complex that is still accepting the vouchers. However, Misty Goowin with the Community Awareness Coalition (CAC) said those types of apartments are becoming more difficult to find in Knoxville.

“Many of the properties that were receiving those vouchers were tax credit properties and they’ve decided they are no longer going to continue to take section 8,” said Misty Goodwin with Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC). “They’ve reached their limit so they’re asking folks to leave, not renewing leases.”

According to the CAC, 774 units from 13 complexes in Knoxville have stopped accepting vouchers within the last year. Today, there are 1,914 affordable housing units and almost 3600 families with vouchers.

“The solution is certainly more affordable housing,” said Goodwin. “We need more landlords that are willing to take vouchers.”

Gaines Clabough

The Claboughs say they hope their new apartment will be better.

“I was going to die right here on this couch,” said Gaines Clabough. “But they didn’t give me a choice. Hopefully I’ll get out of here and the lord will let me live a little while longer.”

Goodwin says proposed President Donald Trump administration’s proposed $6.2 billion budget cuts at the Untied States Department of Housing and Urban Development could force more people to move. While the exact impact of the budget cuts on vouchers is unclear, The National Low Income Housing Coalition has calculated that 200,000 people could lose the vouchers nationwide.

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