Macclenny, Florida woman Janice Crawford has been a patient in either a medical rehab facility or hospital since December 2013. Because of this, she received a letter from the property manager of the apartment complex she lives in explaining that she will have to move out of her apartment unless she returns to it by May 23. As First Coast News reports, it’s a difficult situation, made more difficult by attempts to interpret federal law.
Ms. Crawford has lived at Baker Manor for 12 years. Baker Manor is a privately owned United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized community. Even though the 57-year-old woman has paid her rent and “never had a problem” at the complex for over a decade, her medical condition, one that has kept her out of her home nearly 180 days, may mean she has to leave. Ms. Crawford received a letter from Baker Manor Business Manager Angela Tanner that read, in part:
“Tenancy may be terminated in response to extended absence or abandonment. Extended absence is when the tenant is absent from the unit for longer than 60 continuous days, or for longer than 180 continuous days for medical reasons.”
Ms. Tanner told FCN, “I don’t want Janice to lose her apartment, it is HUD’s rules and we don’t want to lose HUD funding, we have to comply.” She also mentioned that it’s a decision Baker Manor’s owners have made. Tanner is pointing to HUD Handbook 4350.3: Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs (PDF) to make this claim. In fact, the letter quoted above takes the language from this handbook. However, the letter Ms. Tanner sent did not include one crucial sentence that immediately follows it: "Owners may allow exceptions for extenuating circumstances.” FCN’s report was unclear as to whether either Ms. Tanner or Ms. Crawford was aware of that sentence.
One could argue that Ms. Crawford is indeed dealing with, “extenuating circumstances.” Nancy Foss, a friend of Ms. Crawford, told FCN, “I have no idea how they can justify evicting a sick woman. Who, she needs a triple bypass, she is on dialysis and the stress from this is enough to harm her…It’s cruel. This is not something Baker County would do, we’re a family county."
As of FCN’s report, no eviction notices have actually been filed. Ms. Crawford told the station that she will attempt to be back in the apartment before May 23.