Hello Folks! We are the Scotts--a young, loving and unique family of three from Tucson, AZ. We are Mark: a joyful and caring 33 year old; Jessica: a passionate and creative 27 year old; and Lydia: an intelligent and polite 3 year old (4 on November 5, 2017).
We are experiencing the a nightmare that no family ever expects to experience--homelessness. This is the summarized version of the events leading up to this crisis:
We our losing our home because our landlords--a husband and wife team with numerous documented violations--have decided to draft a bogus eviction which we can not afford to fight. This eviction has led the behavioral health agency--which provides the family with a rental subsidy due to Mark's disability--to cancel the subsidy. Jessica's recent layoff combined with living expenses has left us without a way to afford a new place to live. Currently all family shelters are full in Tucson (we are on the city-wide waiting list, but have no way of knowing where we are on that list or when an opening will become available) and with very little family in Tucson, the Scotts only option to remain as a family unit and keep up with the day-to-day routines they have established is to reach out for help. The other option to remain as a family unit is to take our chances on the street or in the desert.
It must be said that a secondary, yet just as important goal of this campaign is to spread awareness of the trauma and turmoil that slumlords cause the disabled, most vulnerable and poor in our communities. Even if you can not donate, posting this link to your walls, feeds or web pages will help to let slumlords everywhere know: people are learning, and we won't be tolerating your disgusting practices any more.
What follows is the detailed version of the events leading to this desperate and unfortunate situation.
Mark is disabled with a mental health diagnosis which drastically effects his ability to work. A local behavioral health agency provided him with a subsidy to cover a portion of the rent. The unit was a quick compromise, as the lease at the previous family home had expired and the Scotts were living with other family. They decided to rent a unit in a set of duplexes where Mark's mother lives. Unknown to the family at the time, the landlords have a reputation for allowing their properties to fall rapidly into disrepair and then refuse to use quality workmanship to fix issues (or refuse to fix issues at all!).
In mid 2016 a large nearby strip mall was demolished to make room for a Walmart. During the demolition, a massive number of mice converged on the neighborhood, causing the majority of the houses and multi-family structures to become infested, the Scotts' home being no exception. Many calls for relief to both the agency providing the rent subsidy and supposed advocacy and to the landlords went unheeded, and by July 2017, the infestation became severe.
The landlords offered to patch the mice holes, and did so. Within 24 hours, as mice are very well known to do, they ate through the walls again, thus defeating the landlords' shoddy fix. The Scotts' duplex neighbor had enough. He decided to call an exterminator for both his and the Scotts' units and bill the landlords. This did not end well for the neighbor or the Scotts.
The landlords filed a bogus eviction against the family's neighbor and forced him out of his unit. In the guise of compassion, they offered the Scotts an early exit from the lease. When consulted, the agency providing the subsidy notified Mark that they would not accept this--only completing all 12 months of the lease would be cause for the subsidy to be continued at another rental. With this information, Mark politely declined to be forced out and informed the landlords that they would indeed be held to the lease which was signed, as is their legal right. Needless to say, the landlords were furious. Violating a number of Equal Housing protections, the wife of the landlord calledMark--a man diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type 2--a "mentally retarded f***head" who is "too sick in the head to even know what is going on half the time". She called him "a disgusting slob" who caused "an entire neighborhood to be infested with rats and fleas". She flat out denied that a large, decades old structure was demolished in 2016 and that no other houses in the neighborhood had any pest problems. "Thats just another one of your retard delusions, you f***ing retarded pig. Everyone knows you mentally ill fa**ots make s*** up to get benefits from us wealthy people.", she told him while his wife and daughter listened in on speakerphone.
Upon disconnecting with his landlady, Mark reached out to his agency for help and advocacy in dealing with this violation of his rights. Th
e hosuing coordinator promised to investigate and return the call the next day. Two weeks and daily calls sent to voicemail later, the landlord returned to the family's door. He asked if they had considered his offer of allowing them to exit the lease early. Again, Mark told them that they would not be bullied into leaving their legally binding contract. The landlord once again gr
ew irate, shoving Mark and yelling at him while his wife, daughter and two close friends watched from a window. Mark began to walk away as he felt the conversation had now escalated into a potentially violent episode. As he turned to enter his home, the landlord punched him in his face. Mark did not have time to duck fully and was left with a bruised temple and eyebrow. Mark called the police and filed a police report, but in the absence of "independent witnesses" (witnesses not known to the family), an arrest could not be made.
A few days later, the landlord refused the rent from both the family and the subsidizing agency and submitted an eviction notice alleging "physical intimidation of the landlord, unsanitary conditions, unauthorized occupants and failure to pay rent". Mark contacted a lawyer and was told that while most of the eviction notice could be fought, the landlord could still allege that the intimidation took place more than once and the burden of proof rests on the tenant, thus dashing any hopes of judicial relief. Also, the subsidizing agency informed Mark that they were no longer eligible for the subsidy as they are being evicted, thus nullifying the many calls for advocacy and help Mark had placed.
Compounding the issue is the fact that Jessica was laid off in early 2017. Jessica, like Mark is a state certified Recovery Support Specialist--especially a peer counselor. The detoxification facilty at which she worked was shut down due to a number of drug overdose deaths on the premesis. Her ensuing job search has been less than fruitful. The new political reality in America has led to a number of cutbacks, especially to social services such as the public behavioral health system. The first jobs to be lost were the entry level ones, such as RSS and BHPP positions. Jessica continues to diligently search for work in her field and has also decided to use her available federal student aid to enroll in a caregiving certification program which begins in November.
Mark has been awaiting his determination for Supplemental Security Insurance benefits for several months now. In the meantime, he continues to search for part time work. As his disability limits his ability to maintain employment and his medications prevent him from safely working outdoors, his job experience is limited and his resume is less-than-impressive. Mark is, however, an extremely hard worker and refuses to remain idle. He is currently spending his time homeschooling their daughter, Lydia, in conjunction with Head Start's At Home program. In addition, Mark takes Lydia to the Children's Museum, Wood's Memorial Library, Rillito Park and the Reid Park Zoo numerous times per month. He is also a tremendously gifted artist (painting, jewelry and pottery) and makes a small amount of money selling his artwork online.
The individual hurt most by this catastrophe is Lydia. Lydia is will be just 4 years old in November. She is dramatically intelligent. Every Friday, a teacher from Head Start's At Home program visits the family to teach Lydia and instruct her parents in teaching methods to homeschool their daughter until she can be placed in a Head Start classroom after she turns 4. Mark and Jessica have tried hard to shield Lydia from the realities of their situation, but she is a very gifted and perceptive child and grasps that something is going on that is very bad and that someone is taking away her home.
In May 2017, two individuals attempted to break into the family home while high on methamphetamine. Jessica and Lydia were in the living room while Mark was in the bedroom taking a nap. While one person screamed obscenities and kicked on the door trying to knock it down, another threw rocks through the window, nearly hitting Lydia and destroying some of her belongings in the process. Jessica and Lydia took refuge in the bedroom where Mark called 911. The police caught one of the suspects, but his father and grandmother had crafted an airtight alibi and he could not be arrested. The suspect is an acquaintance of Mark and Jessica's from Jessica's former place of employment. He somehow found out where she lived and plotted with his accomplice and family to rob the family in the belief that there was money in the house.
Needless to say, Lydia was dramatically traumatized by the event. Whereas she was once fully potty trained, she has now regressed back into wearing pull-ups. She used to sleep in her own bed prior to the event; she now refuses to sleep anywhere other than her parents' bed. She has panic attacks whenever someone knocks on the door, she hears a loud noise outside, she hears planes flying overhead, or if one of her parents leaves the house for any amount of time. She has been receiving therapy from Casa De Los Ninos and a case manager comes to visit her once per week.
Lydia absolutely needs a place for her and her parents to continue the stability-building programs in which she is involved. She is in a very fragile state. Recovery has begun and she has shown amazing progress--progress which the family fears will be erased if yet another trauma--being without a home--is levied upon her through no fault of her own. She is absolutely heartbroken by seeing her father crying every day, feeling like he has completely failed his family. Mark is absolutely crushed by shame and guilt, but refuses to give up. Jessica has been the total rock of the family, being a source of unmeasurable support for her husband and daughter.
The family would give anything to have a source of income to provide for their own selves and not have to rely on the kindness of strangers, especially during this time of tropical natural disasters leaving many hundreds of families far worse off than they are. They continue searching day-to-day for work or any sort of relief. Desperation has forced them to reach out to the world for help.
We do not do this lightly. If we had any other way, we wouldn't ask people to donate even more, especially with tropical storms already ravaging families across the gulf coast. But we are at our absolute bottom. We are desperate. We can not be split apart. We must stick together for our daughter! We are not like many families who present a perfect front to the world while secretly hating each other behind the scenes. We truly love one another. Jessica and I are truly as in love as we were the first day we met, and we are willing to go any length to make sure our little girl has everything she needs to succeed in life. Please help us keep giving her that chance.
Thank you very much.
and Lydia Monique Scott
from Tucson, AZ
PS: The realty company in question is Sunshine Realty in Tucson, AZ. Tell your family and friends to watch out for these unscrupulous slumlords!
- Megan Janetis
- Meleese Pollock
- Melissa Lee
- Elizabeth Benjamin
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