Approved for COVID-19 rent relief, yet still evicted: Renters plead for faster funding

Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 07, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Renters waiting on emergency COVID-19 rent relief funding are getting evicted.

The purpose of the state's COVID-19 rent relief program was to stop a landslide of evictions. But some people like, Michele Harvell Jones, said they're still waiting on the funding to come through after being approved for the program.

"And I don’t know what to do," Jones said.

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Michele Harvell Jones is waiting on COVID-19 rent relief money as she tries to find a landlord who will accept it.

She was evicted from her Antioch apartment. She said her housing case manager tried to work with her former apartment complex to delay the eviction as funding was incoming, but it didn’t work.

“I’m a sopping wreck, and I’m trying to stay strong for my son,” Jones said. “But it’s not easy.”

She's been driving around looking for places to rent.

"And a lot of landlords are not wanting to even deal with THDA," Jones said. "And so I have to live out of a hotel until I can find something with my 15-year-old son."

Her son has autism, so this change has been hard. "And we’re going week to week, and without my brothers and sisters, and God, I don’t know what I would do,” Jones said.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Housing Development Agency said they're still processing roughly 5,300 applications for rent relief. “Just have a backup,” Jones said.

Approval is taking around a month, and it's unclear when the funding could be available for tenants.

“I know you’re trying to help, but can you please make the process faster? Jones said. "People out here getting evicted, almost homeless because of waiting.”

In the meantime, Jones will keep looking for a landlord who will work with her. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to raise money for her.

THDA said if you're a tenant who's in the middle of eviction proceedings, make sure to alert your case manager so they can elevate the case. Tenants can also request for the funding to be sent to them directly.