Displaced Grandmother Needs Housing

Back in March 2017, my grandmother's landlord began the process of evicting her after she escalated a compliant about mold. She lived there for 42 years, and it's the place I grew up in. For months I tried from mostly afar to help her, and my aunt who lived with her. Despite my best efforts, my grandmother, disabled and in a wheelchair, was evicted in early August. Her bed, among other property, was thrown out due to mold damage. The rest of her belongings were hastily shoved into storage. Since then, she and my aunt have been homeless, in a hotel - an unsustainable solution.

This fall, despite living further away than any other family member, I went to Sacramento for nearly three weeks to get a better grip on the situation and solve as many problems as possible. With the help of some incredible friends, we managed to get a lot done. Storage consolidation, reclaiming my grandmother’s housing voucher, finding an attorney and even raising a little bit of money. But the primary problem was not solved and when I left, she was still homeless.

Since returning home in mid-October, I’ve been in constant contact with my grandmother’s attorney and have made incredible attempts to get answers and assistance from the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), the agency that manages her Section 8 housing voucher. Her caseworker, Sondra Smith, is the person who is paid by tax payers to be my grandmother’s housing advocate. Sondra has explicitly refused to make an appointment with me to discuss my grandmother’s situation. Instead, I must leave her a message and wait for her to call me back (within 48 hours), but if I miss her call, even by a second, the process begins all over again because I am not given any way to contact her directly either by phone or email. The couple of times I was able to catch her call in time, she refused to give me a direct answer to any of my questions, or she directed me to another department to speak with. The lack of transparency within SHRA is astonishing and surreal. After months of attempting to get any meaningful assistance from SHRA, I have come to the conclusion that the agency is completely incompetent.  

On December 6th, my grandmother had a hearing to get the eviction removed. The end result: The property owner (Ferguson & Brewer), will retract the eviction if she pays $2,200.00 for the period of time she remained in the unit after the initial date to terminate tenancy. Needless to say, I was very disappointed in that outcome. Among many inconsistencies with F&B’s court filings, the woman hired by F&B to serve my grandmother with an unlawful detainer (UD), had the wrong address on the form she filed with the court. Because my grandmother never received that UD, she could not file an answer to request a trial and instead received a default judgement against her allowing F&B to evict her. The attorney advised against going to trial over the hearing decision for the following reasons:

1: Her case would not be heard until January or February 2018.

1: With Sacramento being an extremely landlord-friendly jurisdiction, there’s a high probability that a judge would not rule in her favor.  

2: Her court case would show up on her credit check as a red flag to anyone considering renting to her.

After incredible pressure, my grandmother’s siblings decided to chip in some money, all of which has gone to the hotel. Noah and I have also contributed significant amounts of our money and savings in attempts to help my grandmother, not to mention the time off work and countless hours on the phone with various government agencies. With me beginning school in January, we cannot continue to support the situation in a way that is helpful and still financially responsible. We have exhausted all government resources we are aware of. I am now coming to you as a last resort. She needs $2,200 to start, which will remove the eviction. She is on the waiting list for a few apartments and she will need to provide a rental security deposit and pay moving costs once she’s approved. And finally, once she’s in a place, she will need a new bed, because hers had too much mold damage to be salvaged in the move. Taking into account the current and future cost, I am attempting to raise $5,000. It’s ambitious, but it’s what she needs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It makes me feel like I’m being heard and that in itself is very meaningful to me. If you are willing/able to contribute anything I would be incredibly grateful, and I know my grandmother would be as well. If you aren’t able to contribute fiscally, but willing to share this, I will be equally grateful. There are many details to this situation, but essentially it comes down to my grandmother being a vulnerable tenant in a landlord-friendly jurisdiction, and a failure of the system to protect and ensure her housing needs. If given the platform I would speak on it until my voice gave out. If you would like to know more details, or have any questions or suggestions, please send me a DM.
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Devlin J. Nevo 
Silver Spring, MD
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