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Faces of the Grand Rapids housing crisis: Chanae Jackson

In this five part series, residents of the greater Grand Rapids area share their personal stories of housing insecurity and homelessness. Part 5.
Chanae Jackson and her disabled son face eviction.

Chanae Jackson and her disabled son face eviction. /Amy Carpenter

Grand Rapids Homes for All met last Friday night at Baxter Community Center to talk about the housing crisis and gentrification in Grand Rapids. In this meeting, residents had an opportunity to join the Tenant Union, brainstorm ideas about housing solutions in Grand Rapids, and share their stories in preparation for the upcoming City Commission meeting. Amy Carpenter talked to several people who have experienced housing insecurity or homelessness and they asked her to share their stories.

Chanae Jackson received a letter just over a month ago from her property manager on behalf of her landlord. "They stated that I would need to vacate the property by the end of March, as they thought that would be adequate time for me to relocate. They also stated that this was due to the landlord wanting to make changes to his properties ... and my address was part of those changes. I was thanked for my seven years of tenancy." [Jackson gave an address that records indicate is owned by Robert Volkers Properties. I was unable to reach Volkers for comment.]

Jackson continued, "I talked to my Section 8 coordinator immediately." Jackson wanted to make sure she and her disabled son would be able to complete any steps necessary well ahead of her deadline, but was told that she would have plenty of time. Yet with time running out, Jackson has found herself caught in a legal bind. She's been asked to move, yet must ask for permission to move in order for her Section 8 status to continue. Based on the paperwork offered to her, she believes that her status is supposed to be protected because her family has experienced emergency circumstances and because of her son's disability. Yet she awaits a decision.

Jackson chose her current location based on its proximity to the Medical Mile, as her son has continued health issues. She said she has found a new home, with a yard of their own. But she can't move in until the legal situation is resolved, which may involve a court decision. She said, "My landlord isn't cooperating with Section 8 ... and they don't seem to care."

Jackson mentioned that she has not been offered relocation funds from her current landlord. She does not currently have the security deposit or the first month's rent that would be due on top of her Section 8 voucher. As cities around the nation deal with housing crises and gentrification, various solutions have been put forth. In Portland, Oregon, the city council has just passed a renter protection law that would require landlords to pay relocation costs up to $4500 to tenants when they've raised rents by more than 10 percent or issued a no-cause eviction.

As Jackson spoke, she alternated between tears and voicing trust that the situation is "in God's hands." "This is my life," she said, "and I'm still waiting."

Part 1: Minnie Dentmond

Part 2: Carla Dentmond

Part 3: Karla Monterusso

Part 4: Joyce Daniels

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