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Landlord v. Tenant: Each Day A Struggle For Mother Seeking Affordable Housing

Cristian Jaramillo
Moesha Tyner said she searched weeks for an affordable apartment for herself and her six children after she was evicted by her previous landlord.

It’s been a tumultuous couple of months for Moesha Tyner and her six children.

After her landlord evicted her from her previous rental unit on Center Street in Bloomington, she had trouble finding a new place to live because her former landlord reported her as a bad credit risk.

Tyner’s story was part of the GLT investigative series Landlord v. Tenant. At the time, Tyner’s family was living in a unit that was roach infested, had missing windows, a sinking bathroom floor, water leaks, ceiling damage and a falling down porch.

She withheld rent from her landlord, Cynthia Shepard, hoping the landlord would address these problems.

Instead Tyner received an eviction notice from Shepard.

That began a weeks-long struggle to find a place to live she could afford. “It was very difficult to find someplace that could hold my six kids,” Tyner said on GLT’s Sound Ideas.

Each time she applied for a rental, Tyner said she had to pay a non-refundable credit check fee, only to have her application rejected in several cases.

“You had some (landlords) say no, automatically no, we can’t help you at the moment,” she recalled. “It’s very hard because they don’t want anyone with an eviction.”

Tyner said she paid out $160 in non-refundable application fees. Finally, she was able to find a landlord willing to rent to her at the Golf View apartment complex in north Normal.

She and her six children are now ensconced in a two-bedroom unit there for which she pays $595 dollars a month.

She said she’s happy. There aren’t roaches in her current apartment, and her new landlord, Kauffman Real Estate Consultants, agreed to waive the application fee for her.

“If I have a problem, he’s out there within the hour, you don’t have to wait,” Tyner said of her new landlord.

Credit Judith Valente
Moesha Tyner and her six children live now in a two-bedroom apartment in this building on Golfcrest Road.

The apartment is much smaller than what she had on Center Street, “But I appreciate that it’s much cleaner and a good environment for the kids to live in,” she said.

Tyner, however, faces problems on several other fronts.

She said she had to quit her $9 an hour job at Walmart because her pre-school age children all have elevated lead levels in their blood, and are frequently ill.

Her 4-year-old son had a lead level of nine (five is considered too high), and was recently hospitalized.

Her 2-year-old daughter has a blood lead level of five.

“My son woke up out of his sleep and blood was coming out of his nose and mouth. He was shaking  … Chunks of blood coming out. It was like the scariest moment ever to see your son shaking and you can’t ask him what’s going on,” Tyner said.

She said she is able to get medical care for her children through Medicaid (the Children's Health Insurance Program), but getting in to see doctors who will take Medicaid patients is difficult.

Tyner’s former husband tries to help, but works only day labor jobs. “I’m leaning on family and friends right now," Tyner said. ”It’s hard depending on other people because I’m used to just working.”

She said she hopes eventually to return to work because she wants to save enough money to rent a larger unit.

She said her children need new shoes and coats for the winter and she isn’t sure how she will pay for them.

“If I get a couple of dollars in my pocket, I’ll go to Home Sweet Home Ministries (a Bloomington social service agency) and look for jackets on sale, or look for other programs that give away coats,” she said.

Tyner said what keeps her going is attending services at different churches on Sundays. She said she is looking for a “permanent church home.”

The full interview

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