Target 8: Report about veteran living with rats prompts action by Tampa Housing Authority

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A flurry of action and reaction followed our Target 8 report about a veteran placed in an apartment infested with rats.

Housing specialists with the V.A. helped Navy veteran Lee Hoffman locate a two bedroom apartment on Lake Shore Drive.

The Tampa Housing Authority inspected the place and gave it a thumbs up so Hoffman could receive Section 8 housing rent assistance.

After our report showed holes in the walls from which rats could come and go, as well as photographs of rats in trees and traps, the housing authority went right back out there and failed it during a special inspection.

Owner Lisa Tamplin claims she is being unfairly harassed and aggravated by tenants who have been told they are being evicted or their leases are not being renewed.

Tamplin said she is personally overseeing repairs. Section 8 or taxpayer dollars help with the rent on a few of her apartments.

“I can’t handle the rats. I just can’t do it,” said Hoffman.

A housing authority special inspection a day after our report discovered holes in the walls where rats could get in, so the apartment failed.

“They failed the apartment when they did the special inspection. They failed it,” added Hoffman.

Across the parking lot in another unit, Lucian Knott is also on Section 8.

“I’ve been having issues with rodents throughout the apartment and also mold growing through the unit as well,” explained Knott.

A recent inspection failed her apartment as well.

Lisa Tamplin claims repairs, traps and repellent eliminated the rat problem.

Two weeks ago, she told Target 8 she did not want to close up the holes in the walls because she didn’t want the rats dying in there.

Well, if there is no rat problem, why won’t she cover up those holes?

“The holes are actually going to be repaired tomorrow,” said Tamplin.

It is the owner’s contention that Hoffman was aware of the rat issue when he moved in earlier this month, no one forced him to move in.

So we asked her, since she is receiving Section 8 money for these tenants, which are taxpayer dollars, what responsibility does she have to make sure they are living in a rat free environment and that we are getting what we’re paying for?

“My responsibility is, I don’t want any Section 8 or otherwise. I don’t want any of my tenants to to be living in conditions that are less than desirable, rats or otherwise,” Tamplin explained. “Section 8 has nothing to do with it. V.A. has nothing to do with it, that you don’t want anybody, I don’t want any of my tenants living like that.”

The housing authority has scheduled an inspection of Hoffman’s apartment on June 9th, so Tamplin has until then to finish the repairs or face losing rent.

Her apartments are on a list of about 95 properties in Hillsborough County that work with V.A. housing specialists.

The Tampa Housing Authority is offering to explain how the unit passed one inspection then failed another so quickly, it just hasn’t figured out when.

If you have a problem that you think should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808 or email Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

Follow Steve Andrews on Facebook

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