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Riviera Beach woman, 70, feared unfair eviction over clerical error; Contact 5 steps in to help

Deannie Brown told she would lose rental subsidy after husband's death
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 19:19:32-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Deannie Brown, 70, had lived in the same apartment for eight years with her ailing husband, Vernon. 

Just three months after his death, the Palm Beach County Housing Authority (PBCHA) told her it was taking away her $700 a month rent subsidy.  

Contact 5 brought Deannie Brown and her sister-in-law to the PBCHA to look for answers.  

When she received that call from the housing authority last week warning her that her subsidy was being taken away, she said the caller told her she was not recognized as Vernon Brown's wife but his caretaker.  

Deannie Brown, Riviera Beach fights to keep home after husband died
Deannie Brown speaks about the loss of her husband and the possibility of losing her housing subsidy.

"Why do you all want to put me as a caretaker? I'm not no caretaker," she said. "Because if I was a caretaker, why didn't you pay me? I took care of him because he was my husband."

Vernon Brown was her husband of 48 years, a man unable to work for the last 20.  

"What they're doing to me is bad," Deannie Brown said.  

"At first, I thought it was a hoax," sister-in-law Doloris Brown said. "I was thinking that someone knows that my brother's gone and then they want her out of this place."

Doloris Brown, sister-in-law of Doloris Brown
Doloris Brown said she thought it was a hoax that her sister-in-law was losing her rent subsidy.

Doloris Brown then called the county and learned that this was no hoax. She realized her sister-in-law was about to lose the subsidy paid to her landlord.  

She and Deannie told Contact 5 she feared eviction. 

At the housing authority's headquarters, WPTV spoke with CEO Carol Jones-Gilbert. 

"At some point, an error was made and her status was changed from spouse to live-in aide," Jones-Gilbert said.

Carol Jones-Gilbert, Palm Beach County Housing Authority
Carol Jones-Gilbert with the Palm Beach County Housing Authority discusses the mistake made by the agency regarding Deannie Brown's rent subsidy.

She told Contact 5 that the mistake was likely made by someone entering data on the housing authority's computer.

"When we make a mistake, and we legitimately see that it's an error on our part, we will own it and we'll fix it," Jones-Gilbert said.  

"I feel very good," Deannie Brown said after learning the mistake would be fixed. "Because at one time, I felt like I was going to be homeless."  

Deannie Brown can stay in the apartment with the full subsidy until the end of the year.  

Since she's now single, her next subsidy will be less because her Section 8 voucher will pay for a one, not a two-bedroom home.  

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