Some people can be extremely heartless.
A long-time Los Angeles, California resident faced eviction from the apartment that she resided in for the last many decades. All because the landlord wanted to move his relative into that apartment.
Thelma Smith lived in her Ladera Heights home in Los Angeles for about 30 years. At one point, she was employed as an executive secretary for the Sugar Ray Youth Foundation. Smith, who told CBS2 that she “couldn’t stand the smell of beer”, lived a long and healthy 102 years of life until she got the surprise of her life. Her story received widespread attention due to her landlord placing an eviction notice on her door. He wanted to move his daughter in who had recently graduated from law school.
Imagine the feeling of getting that news. While everyone else in the apartment building had fixed-term leases, Smith was the only one in the dwelling living on a month-to-month agreement. According to the Los Angeles Times, the notice read “The dwelling is needed as her principal place of residence.”
With just a few options left, as she was a widow and didn’t have much family left. The family that Smith had left all lived on the east coast, and she had just 90 days to leave the property. According to CBS2, she could not afford an assisted living home.
“Only thing I can say is I have tried to live a good life,” said Thelma to CBS2. “I never wanted to harm anybody.”
The story caused intense upset and immediate backlash towards the landlord. Due to the backlash, he allowed Smith to stay one more month in the apartment. News reporters caught up to him and asked why he would evict a 102-year-old woman, he responded “Would you take care of your child?”
The story also caught the attention of actor and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was saddened as he said Smith “has been a dear friend for a long time. Imagine doing this to a 102-year-old woman who gave back to the community her whole life. It is heartless. Thelma, I’ll be reaching out to help. Landlords, you’ll hear from me too.”
Thelma has been a dear friend for a long time. Imagine doing this to a 102-year-old woman who gave back to the community her whole life. It is heartless. Thelma, I’ll be reaching out to help. Landlords, you’ll hear from me too. https://t.co/IJQrclGQ6I— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) May 24, 2019
According to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, landlords can evict tenants to accommodate a relative, but they must start with the most recent resident. The laws in the area of Ladera Heights were apparently weaker, allowing them to “use this law to target long-term, low-paying tenants,” Larry Gross, the executive director for the Coalition for Economic Survival.
“It’s pretty outrageous and heartless to be evicting this woman,” Gross said to the LA Times. “It just shows a perfect example of how tenants without strong rent-controlled protections are vulnerable to displacement and injustices.”
Although a very disheartening story, Smith was able to fly out to the east coast where the remainder of her family resides. She now calls Washington D.C. home.