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Kearns couple told to move out of home of 22 years, can't find new place to live

Posted at 8:05 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 22:48:53-04

Lynn King looked down upon her small garden, where lilacs and irises bloomed. After 22 years living her home, King's garden brings her memories.

"Those are Mother's Day presents from my daughter," she said.

Memories with her children have, over the 22 years, turned into memories with her grandchildren. Two granddaughters stopped by Tuesday morning. They live just across the street.

"They come and go freely at grandma's," King said with a smile. She offered them Otter Pops.

But after 22 years living comfortably in her home with her husband, Lynn's living room is nothing but boxes. Memories tucked away under cardboard and packing tape.

They don't want to leave, but they don't have a choice.

"We started packing a couple days after we found out," King said.

The Kings don't own their home. Their longtime landlord, King explained, has decided to sell. The landlord gave the couple just over 45 days to get another place, King said.

READ: Salt Lake County home prices rise an astounding 31%

"I’ve looked at trailers, I've looked at duplexes, I've looked at mobile homes, I've looked at houses, I've looked at apartments," she listed off.

And so far, nothing has turned out. Places either deny the Kings, Lynn said, because they don't pass the background check, or because they're low-income. She said they don't have enough money in the bank, and some rentals are just too expensive compared to what they've been paying this whole time.

They also have three animals, including two pit bull mixes-- which Lynn described as also being an issue for places.

Entering the rental market after two decades away has been frustrating, to put it nicely.

"I’m just getting thrown into this with no, you know, sink or swim kind of thing... and we’re sinking," Lynn said, getting choked up as she spoke. "And we just need some help. We got eight days. We got eight days, and I have nothing. No hope on the horizon. We’ve tried, and we've tried, and we've tried. I got a denial this morning. I don’t have any other recourse."

The rental market is tight, said Utah Apartment Association Executive Director Paul Smith. Utah has a four percent vacancy rate for rental units, he explained.

Housing prices are increasing, and several people will apply for the same place. Because rentals are first-come, first-served, Smith said the first qualified person is who gets the lease. Anyone after that has to start over and apply somewhere else.

WATCH: Utah women and children struggle to make rent, census survey shows

"It has to be very stressful to enter into today’s housing market," he said. "It’s so different than has been in the past."

That said, Smith explained that there are options for people struggling to find somewhere to rent. He recommended calling 211, a state-run housing hotline where trained housing counselors will help find solutions.

He also suggested the organization Community Action, as well as rentrelief.utah.gov. The Road Home also helps find low-income families find housing, Smith said.

His best advice for renters coming up against walls: Keep trying, and keep applying for places as early as possible.

"One of the things I tell people is, just keep looking. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged," he said.

King explained that they are in a unique situation. They called 211, but don't qualify for rental assistance, she said. As the days begin to tick down, their boxes all packed, the community has helped the couple raise money for rent.

People donated items for a yard sale that King held at her house last weekend. She also started a GoFundMe, in a last-ditch effort to come up with funds to purchase the house from the landlord.

She's just hoping something works out soon.

"I want to be able to go to bed at night and know I have a place to sleep," she said. "I want to be able to wake up and know that I’m not going to be homeless."