VOL. 131 | NO. 31 | Friday, February 12, 2016
Warren, Tulane Move-Out Leads to Larger Issues
By Bill Dries
The end of federal rent subsidies at two Memphis apartment complexes with a recent history of code violations will create some larger issues for the surrounding communities.
Those larger changes begin to unfold next week as federal officials meet with residents at each of the apartment complexes to talk about their move out of the aging complexes.
“I think we need to go after some federal grants that specifically will allow us to go in and tear down and put new homes up so that you keep life in those communities.”
Shelby County Commission
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this month ended its contract with Global Ministries Foundation for rent subsidies at the Warren and Tulane Apartments, citing two failed code inspections.
All of the residents at each complex pay their rent with the HUD subsidies.
HUD officials announced the residents of both complexes would get new housing subsidy vouchers to find another place to live. GMF, which owns the complexes, said it would help in the relocation effort and is looking for a buyer of both properties.
HUD officials meet with Warren residents Thursday, Feb. 18, and with Tulane residents Friday, Feb. 19, at their respective apartment complexes.
Shelby County Commissioner Eddie Jones said the change will have a larger impact.
“What’s going to be the economic impact across the board? I know it’s going to affect our schools,” said Jones, a city code enforcement officer. ”They are going to be affected. All of those little mom-and-pop stores that they would shop in. … It’s going to make an impact that I don’t think we anticipated.”
Shelby County Schools leaders said Wednesday they are evaluating the impact on school enrollment and will take a closer look once the families are relocated.
Student mobility is an issue SCS has dealt with for years – specifically the impact of students who move several times during the year, which can interrupt the learning process as those students adjust to a new school environment.
Jones and other commissioners toured the two complexes, along with other properties owned by Global Ministries, last year.
The commission also talked with GMF founder Richard Hamlet during committee sessions in January as commissioners delayed action on a resolution that would have urged the federal government to end the subsidies unless Global Ministries improved conditions.
Other elected leaders, including some Memphis City Council members, have been skeptical of the interim improvements and a longer-term recapitalization plan.
“Global Ministries was making a tremendous amount of repairs,” Jones said of the recapitalization plan Hamlet unveiled just before Warren and Tulane failed their second federal inspection in less than a year.
The repairs GMF made between the two federal inspections focused on Goodwill Village Apartments in North Memphis, which passed the second inspection and isn’t affected by HUD’s decision to end subsidies at Warren and Tulane.
Jones wondered aloud about the future of the Warren Apartments site, which borders Interstate 240 in an area just north of Memphis International Airport.
The Tulane site in Whitehaven has a more realistic chance of a residential revitalization project with new owners, Jones added.
“I think we need to go after some federal grants that specifically will allow us to go in and tear down and put new homes up so that you keep life in those communities,” he said. “Warren is a whole different animal because of where it sits. … I don’t know what we do with them. But for Tulane I think you could find some federal funding.”