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Housing Authority Plans To Demolish Franklin Heights, Families Must Move

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Posted at 10:28 PM, Aug 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 16:38:27-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - To Stephanie Bastion, her dog Lucky has just been one of the kids, and she said he’s a big help with her anxiety.

“We saved him, but he actually saved me,” she said.

But right now her anxiety has been about him.

“If I'm forced to choose whether we get a house or I have the pets…that's a lot [to handle],” she said, tearing up at the thought.

Stephanie and the 80 other families who live in Franklin Heights, a Murfreesboro public housing complex, just found out the Murfreesboro Housing Authority has planned to demolish it.

“The infrastructure is deteriorating into the ground and we don’t have the funds to bring the units up to today’s standards,” said Housing Authority Director Thomas Rowe. Rowe said he wouldn’t ask people to live somewhere he wouldn’t live.

They said they want folks out ideally by the end of the year.

“That was a kick in the face,” said Franklin Heights resident Mama T, who’s lived there for 11 years.

At a Wednesday meeting, where Rowe allowed a still photographer but not a NewsChannel 5 camera, residents came to ask questions. Many were excited about the idea of jumping the wait list for section 8 vouchers. It’s a necessity because Murfreesboro has only had an additional 30 units at other public housing complexes in town.

“I think it’s like a blessing to be upgraded from like the projects to regular housing,” Angel Knox said while holding her 7-year-old daughter.

Others said they've starting calling around with no luck.

“You get there and they say we just have two bedrooms, we just have three bedrooms, upstairs,” Mama T said, “and I can’t go up the steps because I have seizures, I have cancer.” She often walks with a cane.

For Stephanie it’s the timing that’s the most difficult part. School just started for her three kids who may now have to switch schools mid-year.

“They’re just now getting used to everything, and then bam you got to find new friends,” she said.

Rowe acknowledged it could be hard on families with kids.

"It's hard to pick a good time. We tried to start earlier," Rowe said.

And Stephanie said she doesn't have time to save up for the hefty pet deposits most places expect for Lucky and her cat, who to her, are kids number four and five. She said many apartments ask for $300 per animal.

“I don't know what I’m going to do,” she said.

She’s one of many residents who have been optimistic about the idea of a move but anxious about a concrete plan for the future.

According to Rowe there have been no plans to sell the land where Franklin Heights currently stands. He told NewsChannel 5 he hopes to one day build a new assisted housing complex at that location.