How's this for ironic? The church-affiliated housing provider that's trying to boot a 103-year-old tenant due to concerns about liability ("Who Would Jesus Evict?," 3/21/08) has also set out to evict and collect back rent from a former tenant who moved out due to failing health.
On March 17, the Ecumenical Housing Corp. filed an eviction notice and demand for $4,383 against Margaret Anderson, a former tenant at its Taylor Ridge complex in Cottage Grove.
Anderson, 82, had lived at Taylor Ridge since 1994. Her lease says she can leave after giving 30 days' notice if a physician recommends that "an assisted living community or long-term health center is the best accommodation."
On Aug. 31, 2007, Anderson's attorney notified the group that she would be leaving at the end of September. He included a note from her physician saying she was "no longer able to live independently due to medical problems."
Carla Fears, executive director of the Ecumenical Housing Corp., wrote back saying this was not good enough, because Anderson was moving into another independent living community. Fears said Anderson would be liable for monthly payments till her lease expired, on May 31, 2008.
Anderson's attorney, Brian Severson, says the lease does not require a tenant to move into an assisted living facility, only that a physician recommend it. He says the home she moved into did provide a higher level of care; she's since had to move again, to a rehab nursing home.
"She lived in that building for well over a decade," clucks Severson. "She paid her rent on time year after year after year."
Two weeks ago Anderson's daughter, Pat Fero, learned that a sheriff's deputy was trying to serve her mother an eviction notice. She intercepted him in the parking lot of the rehab nursing home.
Fero, who has power of attorney, is aghast at the church group's behavior: "We are in serious trouble when our parents and grandparents are subjected to treatment that is inhumane and unforgiving."
Fears refuses to discuss the matter. "We do not comment on any of our residents," she tells a reporter, before hanging up.
Severson has until April 14 to respond to the church group's eviction notice and payment demands. "She won't be paying what they're asking," he assures.