Community Effort Saves Woman from Eviction

peace through reason (prop1@prop1.org)
Wed, 15 Jul 1998 13:06:16 -0400


Now here's a small light of hope in an otherwise murky world.


Community Effort Saves SE Woman From Eviction


              By Hamil R. Harris

              Washington Post Staff Writer

              Saturday, July 11, 1998; Page C01=20


              A 36-year-old woman who is about to give birth to her

              eighth child was saved from eviction yesterday after

              community leaders in Southeast Washington came up

              with more than $6,000 to pay three years in overdue rent

              on her apartment in a public housing complex.


              The payment brought to a close a bizarre day that at one

              point saw Carolyn Clark's belongings stacked by the

              curb while workers boarded up her five-bedroom

              apartment in the Stoddard Terrace complex.


              The court-ordered eviction was part of a continuing

              crackdown by the D.C. Housing Authority, which has

              been ousting as many as 50 delinquent tenants each

              month to make room for the 18,000 people on waiting

              lists for the 11,000 subsidized units in the city.


              "It was a whole lot of teamwork that got me back into my

              apartment," said Clark, whose case was seized upon by

              tenant rights activists troubled by the aggressive eviction

              policy.


              Clark's children are ages 1, 4, 6, 7, 10, 17 and 18, and

              she is nine months pregnant. She has never married.


              "Every time I think it's the right man, it's the wrong man,"

              she said. "I'm not going to deal with anybody else until

              I'm married."


              She paid a security deposit when she moved into the

              $462-a-month apartment in June 1995, a Housing

              Authority official said, and has made two rent payments

              since then. Clark said her financial condition worsened

              in March, when her monthly $689 welfare payment was

              cut off after she failed to file proper paperwork on time.


              Deputy U.S. Marshal Darrell White arrived to serve the

              eviction papers shortly before 11 a.m. yesterday,

              accompanied by a crew hired to remove Clark's

              belongings.


              "I know you have to do your job," said Karen Settles,

              president of the Stoddard Terrace Tenants Association,

              "but we are waiting for her aunt to bring $3,000."


              White responded, "Landlord-tenant rules say that we

              have to proceed."


              Then, as all but the oldest of Clark's children looked on

              from the sidewalk, the work crew began to strip the

              apartment bare, piling their belongings by the curb.


              "I feel a little bit sad," said Jacqueline Clark, 6, as she

              watched the men pass by carrying toys, baby strollers

              and three television sets.


              But as the apartment emptied and the work crew began

              nailing plywood covers over the door and windows,

              Jacquelyn Henry, of Marshall Heights Development

              Corp., worked feverishly to come up with money to pay

              the back rent.


              "The reason why we are stepping in is because we are

              trying to prevent these children from being neglected,"

              Henry said. "If she has seven children and is pregnant,

              it's going to cost more to move her than for her to stay in

              the apartment."


              Arthur Jones, spokesman for Housing Authority, arrived

              at the complex to defend the city's position.=20


              "People have to pay their rent," Jones said. "We are very

              tolerant of people having difficulty, but three years is a

              long time to go without paying rent."


              By the time Henry had finished her scramble for money,

              the Marshall Heights group was ready to do business

              with Jones.


              "They gave to us a check . . . which represents the

              balance of her $5,680, plus $445," to cover the cost of

              the eviction, Jones said. "Because of the advocacy of the

              Marshall Heights, we are allowing this woman back into

              her apartment, because they went the extra mile."


              After the boards came off the door and windows, and the

              family's belongings were carried back inside, Clark said

              the five-hour eviction had taught her an important lesson.


              "I always want to take care of my business first," she

              said.



                 =A9 Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company



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