by Amelia Anderson
And you don’t even have to wrap it! The Christmas season ushered in a call for help. A fellow at McDonald’s referred my cell to a distraught woman in her 60’s who tearfully sniffled she had to move. “When?” I inquired. “Tonight!” she snapped. “Why,” I asked. “Cause they don’t want me here.” It was 6:00 Saturday night. I ascertained this lady was released from a hospital to a monthly transitional living home. Rent was due tomorrow. She wanted out. “Tell them you need another night to pack and you’ll move tomorrow,” I said. “Meet me for breakfast at 10. I’ll buy.”
I was concerned for this woman’s safety. This was the fourth complaint I had received about this home. I was inquiring into licensing issues. And so was Sue. She was smart. Had worked for government and had a bad habit — of questioning. That’s why they didn’t like her. She was paying a thousand a month for a bedroom suite housing three other women with adjoining bath. But the shower was excluded, use reserved only for the male custodian. He used the hall (guest) toilet and sink – and their shower. They were to use the ladies shower across the hall. Not Sue. She committed the Cardinal sin. She got caught in the shower!
Over coffee, I learned Sue had lived for thirty years in her own mobile home, initially paying $250 a month for space rent then upped to the current $1,216. Until four months ago when paramedics took her to the hospital for COPD which meant she couldn’t breathe. Now encumbered by an oxygen tank, her Medicare Hospital Insurance hadn’t covered a 20% co-pay. After paying the hospital bill from her $1,450 a month pension, no money was left for rent. Why wasn’t Sue released to her home? Disoriented, she needed help with meals. Besides, it could have been liened and sold by now. “Let’s go!” We drove. It was a big double wide located in Sylmar County. That’s why the rent jumped $200 a month ten years ago when the mobile park sold. No protection from LA Rent Control. Her mobile home was still there with an inch of eviction papers plastered on the door. She had a couple business days left to file a response that might make her eligible for a $1-5,000 payoff for leaving the park and her mobile home.
The problem escalated as I surveyed the baked landscape. Summer brought temperatures of a hundred degrees beating down on the hot tin roof unprotected by a broken swamp cooler. A too small air conditioner was stuck in a window but not where she slept. The roof leaked to – mold? Along with cigarettes, no wonder she got COPD. Figures bounced in my head. Even if one could negotiate away four months’ rent, she couldn’t afford to live here. The trailer needed maintenance and insurance; while her automobile needed the same… plus licensing. And food and incidentals. And with yearly rent increases of 3% that’s $42.00… she was oblivious. That’s not including laundry which used to be across the street, but was removed the same year they sold, raised the rents and cut down the trees. Folks moved. A fellow conjectured, maybe they want people to move, because the park is located by the freeway and it would be worth more as an industrial park!
Then Sue opened the door and I was floored. She was a hoarder. No longer capable of making decisions but incapable of living with accumulated dust. She appeared to weaken. A neighbor appeared with a note posted on the door a month ago. “Sue, come live with me!” Sally was a friend, younger and a licensed caregiver. Breathing in a sigh of relief, I phoned acceptance. Sally needed money because her little dog was at the Vet’s with a $2,000 bill. With a heart that big, you just have to love her humanity.
Shifting to action, Sue gathered valuables. I spoke to the owner and requested one more night at the transitional living home. Monday morning found us at court filing a response. The rent had increased yearly for thirty years while services had simultaneously decreased. I rounded up a couple guys, and by late afternoon we moved Sue out of the transitional home and into Sally’s stream shaded digs. At only $750 a month for two, Sue gleefully wrote a check in full. They piled into Sue’s car and Sally dropped off the check to management on their way to unransoming her dog. The moral to the story is…common sense. Anybody can do it. Try it and write in your own story. And remember in this
Holiday season…a gift of time can change a life! Merry Christmas, Amelia