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Family on brink of eviction due to 'unsafe' conditions, specialists say there's help available

Juanita Skinner shows problems with her Johnson County on Monday, March 2, 2020. Skinner said she is at risk of losing her housing voucher which would effectively force her to be evicted. (Marlon Hall/KCRG)
Juanita Skinner shows problems with her Johnson County on Monday, March 2, 2020. Skinner said she is at risk of losing her housing voucher which would effectively force her to be evicted. (Marlon Hall/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 4:56 PM CST
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A Johnson County woman says her family of eight may soon be evicted from their home of six years, and she says she is out of options as she looks for help.

Juanita Skinner said she is at risk of losing her housing voucher after failing a home inspection. Skinner lives with her husband and six grandchildren.

KMB Property Management, the company that manages the family's rental home, said, in a statement, some of those concerns brought up from the housing authority include allowing people to live in unlawful bedrooms, damage to doors and walls, dirty carpets, and dangerous storage of clothing near a furnace.

Skinner said she received a letter that says her "house is destroyed." She disagreed with that assessment but admitted she has daily challenges looking after six children and managing the day-to-day upkeep at the house.

Some of the issues she showed KCRG-TV9 included a bathroom sink that does not have running water, as well as damage to the walls that she said came from family members.

After an inspection, she was told if she cannot clean up and report any issues that need to be fixed by the property management company by the end of the month, she will lose her housing voucher.

Iowa City staff serve as the housing authority for parts of Johnson County, also doing home checks and inspections. Stan Laverman, a senior housing inspector with the city of Iowa City, explained the process of what they look for.

"That they have running water, that they have electricity, that the supply facilities are functioning, that the stove functions, that walls are complete," Laverman said.

Staff with the area housing authority said they cannot discuss specific cases since it would be against the Department of Housing and Urban Development's regulations.

Laverman did explain in generalities what all tenants should look out for.

"If a tenant is having problems with their unit, they should be having that conversation with their landlord that: 'hey, we're having problems with these items and we need them to be fixed,'" Laverman said.

He also said that tenants should do their best to clean their home regularly.

"The rules are there for a play, for a reason," Laverman said. "What I would suggest is just to keep on top with it on a daily basis and not let them pile up until an inspection happens."

Skinner admitted time is tough to come by and money is tight. But some said there are options for help.

"I don't look at that as an embarrassment, I just look at it as the reality of the situation," Jeff Kellbach, an aging specialist for Johnson County, said. "We want to help out so that they can stay there."

Kellbach says there are resources available to help with similar situations.

"We'd be looking at possibly a waiver program, the elderly waiver through Medicaid, I think that's going to be a really good resource that might help them stay in their home," Kellbach said.

Kellbach said it is their job to help tenants avoid these issues.

"We really just want to get them connected to everything that's out there," Kellbach said.

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