CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — An Anderson County family is homeless while they await low-income housing and a response from the IRS.
Karen Oliver is 60 years old and takes care of her 14-year-old grandson and 34-year-old daughter.
In September, they were evicted from their home, with no other place to go.
“Pretty much since then we’ve just been living the car or a motel when we can afford it,” Oliver said. “Usually a motel until when the money is gone.”
For two months, her sedan has been a bed, storage and transportation for her family of three. It’s a tight squeeze, seeing as how her daughter is in a wheelchair and her grandson is 6 feet tall.
“You know, my kids should know that they’re going to lay their head in their own bed at home. That’s not a luxury. That’s a necessity. It’s a basic. I just want that for them,” Oliver said.
Oliver and her 34-year-old daughter can’t work and rely on government assistance.
“I’ve had bypass twice and several heart attacks. I had my first heart attack when I was 34. Christina doesn’t walk or talk. She’s in a wheelchair and diapers, and, I mean, she’ll never live independently. You know, she’s basically requires the care that a newborn requires,” Oliver said.
Oliver said she knew she wasn’t going to be able to stay in her last residence long-term, because it was just out of her price range. Once the eviction moratorium was lifted after COVID-19, it wasn’t a shock she needed to find other housing.
“I mean, I just got a tiny little storage place and what I couldn’t move I just left,” Oliver said. “And now we’re about to lose what’s in that little storage unit. You know, I mean, like I told you, dirty clothes in my car that have been there since we got evicted that I can’t get the money up to wash everything at once.”
The issue is she’s now on a waiting list for low-income housing, and in the meantime her family is living in her car.
Although the government has continued to give Oliver monthly assistance, the money only goes so far while in between.
What could make life a little easier and safer for her family are stimulus checks for her daughter and child tax credits for her grandson. Oliver said she’s called the IRS at all times of the day for months with no luck.
“The offices are closed,” Oliver said. “I can’t go visit and talk to anybody at the IRS. … I’ve called forty-three times and I still have that on my phone. And I have spent five hours and forty-two minutes, and that’s when I stopped adding it and counting, on hold with the IRS.”
She’s received a response once about her daughter’s stimulus check, and she said the IRS had an impossible request.
“They wanted Christina to verify her identity. And I mean, she doesn’t walk or talk. You know, she can’t verify her identity. So I should be able to verify her identity because she’s my child and I raised her. But I can’t because I don’t have power of attorney,” Oliver said.
Oliver is waiting on that more than $3,000 she believes would hold her over until she is accepted into low-income housing. She’s also reasonable, and knows she wouldn’t be able to use that money to find a place to rent.
“If I had $3,000 I mean, I don’t know if I would pay a month on a motel or if I would try to find us a little place,” she said. “I don’t want to move in somewhere and have to move again because I can’t keep it cause I can’t stay. … We need income-based housing so that we can sustain ourselves and stay somewhere.”
Oliver has asked several agencies for help but no one can offer what she and her family needs. It’s been difficult, because it’s not easy for her to ask for assistance.
“I don’t want sympathy, I don’t like sympathy. I don’t like needing anybody. I like taking care of myself. It’s the way that I am,” Oliver said.
But, she loves her kids and will do anything to make sure they are safe and warm at night.
She just wishes she could speak to a physical person with the IRS so they can help her out.
“At this point, anything would help us,” Oliver said. “Suggestions. Prayers are always welcome, you know. And as hard as it is to say it, you know, financial assistance.”
WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to the IRS on Oliver’s behalf. Via email, they responded quickly. They do not comment on taxpayer’s cases due to privacy. They suggested Oliver continue trying to call.
Oliver now has a donation account on GoFundMe. I you would like to help her, click here.