/Trump supporter kicks tenant out after political disagreement, showing renters live at the whims of landlords

Trump supporter kicks tenant out after political disagreement, showing renters live at the whims of landlords

Whitney Wages found Wilma Hughes, 77, her landlord in March 2019. She was wearing a housedress, and sitting on her porch swing, while Wages searched for a new place to call home. Wages, 31 years old, recalls Hughes’ first words to her. Hughes was co-owner of large parcels of land and multiple rentals on a county road outside Oxford. It took you too long.” Wages, a white disabled woman who relies on public assistance and is white, stated that it was the best place she had ever lived. The college-educated baker and artist grumbled at Hughes’ racist comments. Hughes then forced Wages out of her apartment last month. She called her a “welfare point person” and said that Hughes was a “welfare POS.” “I did all she asked except go to the farmer’s market on Tuesday and get a fucking melon,” Wages said. Desiree Hensley runs the Housing Clinic at University of Mississippi School of Law. Experts say that renters are unable to control their own dwellings, and the relationship between landlord and tenant can be as important as any other factor in evictions or expulsions. Wages, a liberal-thinking beneficiary of government benefits, was not pleased with Hughes’ 30-day expulsion notice. It was sent by text message after Wages posted on Facebook that he believed President Donald Trump would be arrested. Wages, who has bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and agoraphobia, was able to move into Hughes’ apartment without any problems. With its wood paneled walls, brushed concrete floors and wooden floors, the apartment was affordable for her modest income. She wouldn’t have difficulty climbing up and down the stairs because it was only one-story. She could get fresh air, and even start a garden from the ample outdoor space. Hughes accepted Wages’ federal housing voucher. This was a crucial hurdle for Hughes when she was looking for a home. Mississippi law doesn’t prohibit landlords discriminating against applicants for rent who are eligible for the housing subsidy, as do 11 other states. In just two months Wages moved to Mississippi, eagerly leaving behind Baldwyn’s shabby home. The two women formed a close relationship over the next year, despite their vastly different worldviews. Hughes would have Wages run errands, such as picking up buttermilk at the market or gin from the liquor shop. Hughes brought over jarred salsas, and they made Sauerkraut with each other. They also shared their progress on Hughes’ headboard and Wages’ tomato plants. Hughes asked Wages on July 21 if Wages would be going to the market. She wanted watermelon. Wages was suffering from a sore throat, and she decided to have COVID-19 tested instead. Wages posted a Facebook message the next day calling President Donald Trump a fraud, a traitor, and foretelling his defeat in the forthcoming election. Hughes, a Trump supporter staunchly, didn’t appreciate the post. “Well, I don’t know you at any_ a lot o stuff you pass on_ I cannot comprehend_ but Trump IS NOT POS_!” She commented, “Thank you!” Hughes sent Wages a text message twenty minutes later telling Wages she had to vacate her home in 30 to 45 business days. She wrote, “I don’t want to live with someone like you.” A few days later, Wages received a formal notice. This was devastating news for Wages, who had gained independence in her apartment in the past year. It was an important milestone for someone with mental illness. Due to her disability, Wages is entitled to $794 in social insurance benefits. This means that she cannot earn more than $1260 per month from any job. She never missed rent despite her low income. Wages had just quit her job as a prep cook at Proud Larry’s Restaurant to become a substitute teacher at Lafayette County Schools District. This opportunity was lost when the March pandemic struck. She didn’t have access to the internet to remotely teach. Fearing for her own health, she also quit her part-time job at Chicory Market and a local market in March. After receiving her $700-per-week unemployment benefits in July, which was more than any money she had ever earned before, Wages was able to pay off several of her debts. She also paid Wilson’s vet bill and the balance on her red 2013 Hyundai Tucson. Wages paid her other bills in advance, and purchased a new lens for her Canon EOS 5D that she intended to use freelancely. These benefits enabled Wages to remain safe and protected in her home during the pandemic, and provided some financial security. Her landlord was also annoyed by them. “You get all the free unemployment money_after your job is done_ how much did you have to pay for student loans? Hughes sent a text message to Wages advising her that she had to move. Hughes wrote, “My money pays for your SSI and medicare, as well as food stamps and unpaid tuition. Can you not understand?” The reprieve from poverty that Wages enjoyed was brief. Her unemployment benefits dropped to $140-per-week right as she was losing her home. Congress is yet to decide if they will increase the benefit boost in light of the ongoing pandemic. However, a recent executive order from the president could lead to a $300 increase. Hughes was able expel Wages from her home in less than a month. Her March lease had expired. Although Wages didn’t know it, the agreement automatically created a month-to–month contract, which Hughes could choose to cancel at any time. Hensley stated that the law gives landlords too much control over the lives and livelihoods of tenants. Mississippi law allows landlords to begin the eviction process when a tenant is only three days late on rent. 2019 saw the removal of a provision in the law which gave tenants 10 days to vacate after an eviction. The law currently allows landlords to request a warrant for renters’ removal immediately upon receiving a judge’s order. Tenants cannot withhold rent if a landlord does not repair the unit. This is a common complaint from renters. Allison Cox, the director of Jackson Housing Authority, said that “it’s definitely a landlords world.” The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a contract that landlords sign when renting to tenants who have received a federal subsidy such as Wages. This contract includes safety and cleanliness standards. Hensley stated that if a landlord violates a contract, the only thing the housing authority can do for a tenant who is at risk of becoming homeless is to stop the owner from signing with HUD again. In 2013, Wages obtained her federal housing choice voucher (sometimes called “Section 8”). The voucher pays a percentage, usually between 50 percent and 65 percent of her rent depending on her income. Most voucher holders will not give up their assistance and stay on the program for many more years. The waiting list for the voucher program is currently at 109 families in Oxford. It will be several years before they are approved. Wages was evicted by her landlord and has been trying to find an apartment that meets her needs. Wages has contacted units, only to be told they are full before she gets a call back. Cox stated that if you add a physical requirement to a unit to your already-tried price range, it increases the difficulty of finding a place. “That’s quite a task for the area.” Wages moved into her partner’s apartment after packing most of her belongings in a storage unit. Her apartment was already cramped from a roommate and another friend sleeping on the couch. Wages could lose her voucher if she doesn’t find a suitable place to use it within 60 days. However, the Oxford Housing Authority promised to help her. Johnathan Hill is the director of Oxford Housing Authority. He said that most voucher holders have a six-month- or year-long lease. He estimated that at least one-tenth of their voucher holders are on month to-month leases. This may be a benefit for tenants who wish more freedom to move whenever they like. Hill stated that they are “terrible” for residents whose landlord says, for whatever reason, ‘I don’t want to rent you anymore’. Hill stated that it is not common for an owner to choose to remove a tenant who has been paying rent for a minor violation. Landlords want to keep units full and rent money flowing. However, this doesn’t account for other human emotional motivations. Anna Wolfe. Hughes posted her own Facebook post about the landlord saga. “I know if my land, rental property, and taxes are paid_ I don’t have to live there. Wages stated that she is not against an empty house, but that some things are difficult to digest. They assume that it’s free money so they live lavish lifestyles. Wages agreed. “I’m thankful I can fill up my car whenever I want… I’m grateful that, you know, I can feed myself. “I’m grateful that I can choose what I want to eat and not have to go the food pantry.” she said. Wages noticed that there were new Trump signs on the property when she returned to the apartment recently to retrieve some belongings. One of them read “Make Liberals cry again.”