Sunday, September 25, 2016

Citing Age, Health Problems, Landlord Announces Retirement Plans - Including Shutting Down 49-Unit Building & Bequeathing It To Local University, Leaving Four Dozen Families Scrambling For New Accommodations

In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, The Oak Ridger reports:
  • It appears the oft-maligned Applewood Apartments on Hillside Road will soon close once and for all, as tenants recently received notice they need to vacate the premises by Sept. 30.
    Knoxville attorney Joseph Levitt Jr., who owns the Applewood Apartments, recently sent a letter to all his tenants announcing the impending closing. [Building residents] Joe and Brenda Lisenberg provided a copy of Levitt’s letter to The Oak Ridger.

    “I am closing down the Applewood Apartments as of Sept. 30, 2016,” the letter begins. “I have tried to keep the apartments going as long as possible to provide affordable housing for the working people of Oak Ridge. Unfortunately, my health no longer affords me the ability to keep operating the apartments.

    THIS IS YOUR 60-DAY NOTICE. Please begin looking for other lodgings as soon as possible. Stephanie will be glad to give references and help facilitate your smooth transition. You can pay at the office as usual and let the staff know when you have cleaned out your unit. An inspection will be made and your damage deposit will be refunded depending upon the condition upon your departure.

    “It is a sad day for all of us who have tried to give you an affordable place to live. Our Applewood staff will be available to you during this time.”
    In a phone interview with the Applewood Apartments owner, Levitt said he’s leaving his estate to the University of Tennessee Law School when he dies and doesn’t want to leave the “ruckus” of Applewood to UT.

    “I don’t want to saddle the university with that,” said Levitt, adding his age and state of health prevent him from doing many of the activities he once did. Levitt and the city of Oak Ridge have been in legal disputes over the apartments for years; and when asked about those confrontations, Levitt said he’ll continue to fight “on principle.”
    The mission of the Oak Ridge-based nonprofit organization Trinity Outreach Center of Hope (TORCH) is to help homeless people and to attempt to prevent local homelessness. Executive Director Andy O’Quinn told The Oak Ridger [] that he’d just learned of the Applewood Apartments fate — but nevertheless said he is already in the process of doing what he can.

    “I am talking to several other people about what the best approach will be and how TORCH and the community can work together to assist these individuals,” O’Quinn said. “I will let you know more once I have a more formal plan.”

    The Oak Ridger also spoke to Housing Choice Voucher/Section 8 Manager Terri Flynn with the Oak Ridge Housing Authority, and she said the ORHA has a plan in place to help the 49 families being displaced. The Housing Authority reportedly has a preference code for those displaced through no fault of their own, and Flynn urged Applewood Apartments residents to contact the ORHA as soon as possible to get the process started.

    “They can call (865) 482-1006, Ext. 121, to get the process started as soon as possible,” said Flynn, who noted there are current openings in Oak Ridge’s public housing but applicants must still meet certain requirements for eligibility.

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