Senior resident evicted over harassment and bullying complaints

Senior resident evicted over harassment and bullying complaints

July 19th, 2016 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Roxann Larson stands outside of Dogwood Manor in 2013.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

A former public housing leader will be evicted from her senior high rise apartment.

Residents at Dogwood Manor filed several complaints for bullying and harassment against Roxann Larson, former president of the resident association and vice president of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants.

Larson said she's hurt that some people who she tried to help are accusing her of bullying.

"I never bullied anyone," she said.

The 64-year-old mother and grandmother said she drew attention to problems — such as bedbugs and broken elevators at the public housing site — to help residents.

Other tenants called her eviction an answer to prayer. Resident Shirley Ryals said Larson had some tenants so stressed they sought medical attention because she harassed and called the police on them.

"We will have peace and harmony in the building," Ryals said. "I prayed and gave it to the Lord and I know God fixed it."

Larson lived at Dogwood Manor for five years. She served as resident association president for two years and as vice president of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants for two years. A retired abused women and children's specialist, she said she also helped residents complete paperwork for social services and prepared food for people who were sick.

Chattanooga Housing Authority officials scheduled a formal hearing concerning her continued occupancy in public housing on June 23 after some 19 people signed a complaint accusing Larson of bullying and harassment.

Those who signed the complaint include Ryals, Jeanette Johnson, Kathryn Wright, Carolyn Sexton and Timothy Brown. Other complainants include Jerry McGhee, Sharon Sherrod, Robert Stoudmire, Cornell Eberhardt, Sue Miller, Shirley Lee, Rozena Parker, Linda I. Jarrett and Winifred Henry.

Housing officials said they would probably make a decision concerning Larson's eviction within 10 days. They mailed a letter dated June 30 stating her lease will be terminated and she is ineligible for continued occupancy in public housing.

The letter said the hearing was scheduled after lease violations including "disturbing other tenants' peaceful enjoyment of their accommodations and threatening the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of residents, or any person on CHA's properties."

The letter also stated: "After testimony of 13 witnesses and a review of numerous complaints filed over the last two years, it appears you have been a major contributing factor in creating a sense of agitation and conflict in the building, resulting in a loss of the ability for peaceful enjoyment of the remaining residents."

The letter doesn't give an exact date Larson has to be out of her apartment, but states additional information will be provided by the property manager.

Larson said she could extend her time in the building by appealing in court, but said she prefers to leave without going to court and having an eviction on her record. She said she would like to be out by Aug. 1.

Several residents said they believe the accusations against Larson are untrue. Some said the accusations are racially motivated because Larson is an outspoken white resident leader in a majority black population.

"It's a terrible precedent to set that someone can be ousted from the building when you get enough people to gang up against them," said one resident.

Another resident said there should be an organization that advocates for white people when they are a minority group.

"Roxann didn't do anything wrong," said another tenant.

Residents did not give their names for fear of retaliation.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 757-6431.


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