Poor housekeeping was the reason the LaFollette Housing Authority presented to the court for Debra and Carl Smith’s eviction. The Smiths were supposed to hand in the keys to their apartment Wednesday. However, negotiations between the Area Agency on Aging and the LaFollette Housing Authority, which started Friday and picked up again on Monday, were fruitful in providing an extra six days to the couple.
Carl Smith started packing up on Wednesday. He has a lot of stuff to put into boxes between today and next Tuesday, May 30. For 17 years, they have lived in a two-bedroom low-income apartment in the Rocky Top Development complex. The units are operated by the LaFollette Housing Authority. Three times over five months, the couple were told to clean up their apartment.
They tried, but it was not enough.
Earlier this month, a judge ruled the couple’s lease was terminated for poor housekeeping and $1,300 in back rent. They were supposed to move everything out by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, but there has been an extension.
“They gave me until [next] Tuesday,” Carl Smith said.
On Monday, Debra Smith said she and her husband are disabled and cannot get around much. She depends on oxygen to breathe normally, although she has never smoked. Due to poor mobility, she uses a wheelchair. Carl Smith has had a knee replacement and both hips replaced. He also had a stroke.
Debra Smith also admitted they accumulated too much stuff in their small apartment.
Concerned about the couple, the deadline they faced, and all they had to move, WATE reached out to the Area Agency on Aging.
“We met with the Housing Authority to try to get more information and to see what the timeline was. And I think your story in addition to us being there gave them the extra week,” said Aaron Bradley with the Area Agency on Aging.
Already, the Smiths have loaded baskets and filled them with clothes. They have packed away other stuff in plastic bags. Still, they have four rooms full of stuff that will need to be gone by next week.
“I’m going to have to have help. It’s all I can do to stand up,” Carl Smith said.
Carl Smith said Debra Smith’s son and friends are going to help them pack. They will move some belongings in his truck and rent a U-Haul to Oak Ridge where they found an apartment.
Ronnie Abbott came by on Wednesday to assist the couple.
“I know it’s rough on the streets, I’ve been there myself,” said Abbott. “When they bring the U-Haul and get ready to move, I’m going to help move their stuff out.”
“With God’s help, we will make it,” said Carl Smith.
Without intervention from the Area Agency on Aging, the additional time for the couple to move would not have been possible. Since the eviction had already been approved by the court, there was no time to fight it legally. Every county in Tennessee has an Agency on Aging office that can assist if someone you know faces a similar situation.
Debra Smith’s son has found them an apartment in Oak Ridge. Those looking to assist the Smiths as they move can call Don Dare at 865-633-6923.