3 On Your Side: "He's being evicted for being disabled" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

3 On Your Side: "He's being evicted for being disabled"

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Scratched doors, dented door frames, and scuffed walls.

It's damage left by one man's wheelchair that has prompted the Chattanooga Housing Authority to evict him.

But he says he's doing the best he can with the apartment he has been given.

Now Legal Aid of East Tennessee is stepping in, hoping to keep him off the streets.

They contacted 3 On Your Side in hopes of putting a stop to his eviction.

"I can't walk as good as I did," explained Jeffrey Henson, in an interview with Channel 3.

It's been four years since the 51-year-old was diagnosed with Cerebellar Degeneration.

His mind is still sharp as ever, but the part of his brain that controls balance, muscle coordination and speech is failing him.

It's the same disease that took his dad at age 53, and his brother when he was just 44 years old..

"I manage," he said slowly. Henson says he can't talk as loud or as fast as he used to because of the disease.

Henson manages with the help of a electric wheelchair.

While the apartment he lives in at Mary Walker Towers has a few handicap accessible features, it isn't large enough for his chair to move around.

"It's narrow, just too narrow," he said, showing Channel 3 how difficult it is for him to enter and exit the unit.

His chair has scraped walls, doors, and their frames.

A friend has attempted to repair the damage, but now the Chattanooga Housing Authority says Henson has to go.

Channel 3 obtained a copy of the eviction notice sent to Henson last week.

"I was devastated," he told Channel 3.

"The notice cited that he had caused extensive damage to his apartment," explained Legal Aid Staff Attorney Emily O'Donnell.

Henson contacted Legal Aid, a group that represents lower income residents and the elderly, to accompany him to his eviction grievance hearing.

But Henson says the property manager denied him that opportunity, pulling him aside in the cafeteria hours before the scheduled hearing.

"I wanted someone to speak up for me," he said, "and she said I didn't need nobody."

Now Emily D'Donnell is filing suit on Henson's behalf.

Wednesday, a judge granted a restraining order against the Chattanooga Housing Authority.

CHA cannot take any further action until the case is heard in court next month, or a settlement is reached.

"He's being evicted essentially for being disabled," O'Donnell told Channel 3, "and that's a violation of state and federal fair housing law."

O'Donnell is hoping CHA will recognize the error and allow Henson to stay, or move him to apartment that accommodates his disability.

Henson says he just wants to live out his days in the place he calls home.

"To stay here and live comfortably," he told Channel 3, when asked about the best outcome.

Channel 3 contacted the Chattanooga Housing Authority for comment.

Executive Director Betsy McCright referred us to their attorney, saying we would need written consent from Henson to discuss his case.

Channel 3 has submitted that consent and will keep you posted on the CHA's response.

Henson and his attorney are preparing for court on October 8th, but hope an agreement will be reached before that time.

You can learn about Legal Aid by clicking here.

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