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Housing authority in Putnam County looks to aid tornado victims

BY JIM HERRIN - Hearald-Citizen newspaper in Cookeville, TN

Highlands Residential Services may be able to help to victims of the March 3 tornado who may be eligible for public housing.

"Tornado victims that are still displaced and not yet housed, we have expedited the application process for them," said HRS Executive Director Dow Harris. "We've basically waived everything except income verification and criminal background check in order to move them up on the waiting list."

Harris said while the housing authority has no current vacancies, the waiting list is used to offer units when they become available. He said tornado victims will now receive priority on that list.

"They get the next available unit if they will come and contact us," he said. "I was told that we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 persons that were affected (by the tornado) and still not housed."

Harris said the housing authority has already been in communication with at least two of those storm victims.

"One has been rehoused in her apartment. They've got her power back, but we have one that is still displaced. She's living with her parents," he said.

He said others can be added to the top of the waiting list, as long as they provide HRS with eligibility information.

"If they will come to our office and give us some information so we can verify that they are, in fact, displaced by the tornado, then once we can get their income verified, we'll put them on the rent roll to get a unit," he said.

HRS Director of Operations Chris Cassetty stressed that income guidelines cannot be waived.

"We can waive a lot of things, but they do still have to meet income eligibility requirements,"he said. "We can't move somebody in if they make $100,000 a year."

Harris added, "They have to meet that criteria, but they're not having to go be the 25th or hundredth person on the waiting list. They're going to the top of the list."

For more information, call the HRS office at 526-9793.

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