CINCINNATI — Valerie Lane is running out of time.
A ceiling in her Westwood apartment has collapsed, and rain has soaked much of her clothing, furniture and other belongings. The landlord has told all the building’s tenants they must move by Sept. 30.
Lane has been packing and searching for a new apartment. But despite months of looking, she said she hasn’t been able to find anything.
“I’m stuck here because I don’t have nowhere else to go,” Lane said. “The water is running up under my furniture and going into the closet. So it’s gonna mess up more stuff of mine.”
The situation is more complicated than it appears, said T. Renáe Banks, the owner of Bankable Properties LLC.
Banks is managing the Westwood apartment building for her father, Dion Parker, who owns the property. She said Parker is away getting treatment for problems stemming from mental health issues.
Banks said her father has been trying to make repairs that the building needs. But the federal government stopped paying Parker full rent for his Section 8 tenants because of the property’s maintenance problems, she said, which made it even more difficult for Parker to afford the repairs.
“We haven’t had a payment from Section 8 in almost three months,” Banks said. “During this pandemic, there was no assistance for him.”
A letter dated Sept. 7, 2021, informed tenants they would have to move by Sept. 30, Banks said, because of unsafe conditions in the building.
The letter told tenants they would not be required to pay September rent and suggested they use that money to find a new place.
Lane, who is 64, has a housing choice voucher, she said, the federal housing subsidy more commonly known as Section 8. The voucher was set to expire earlier this year, but she got an extension. Now she is running out of time on the extension, too, she said.
From Cincinnati City Hall to the White House
“I done called everybody, all the way up to tried to get the White House,” she said. “But nobody’s helping.”
A letter from the city of Cincinnati offered to help with relocation expenses, Lane said, but it requires her to provide records of her bills. She packed those papers in boxes before she got the city letter, she said, and isn’t sure she can find the records in time.
Banks said she has offered to help Lane get into a homeless shelter, but Lane has refused that help.
Lane said she doesn’t think she should have to move into a shelter – she wants a home instead.
“My nephew said if push come to shove and I’d be out on the street, I could come there,” Lane said. “But ain’t nobody else saying nothing.”
Banks said her father lived in the same building where Lane lives, and he has tried throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep it maintained. But Banks said his mental health issues, problems with employment and a lack of rent money have interfered.
“The pandemic definitely has a huge role to play,” she said. “I don’t want it to seem like there’s no helping hand being given.”
Lane has a week to find someplace to live, and she said she doesn’t know where else to turn.
“I done went everywhere,” she said. “I don’t know where to go now.”
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on problems we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.