Home is No Longer Where the Heart Is
Hello All: Rather than explain the whole sordid mess yet again, I thought it would be easiest to simply copy of a letter that I recently sent out to family and friends, advising them of our circumstances. I offer it to you more as a “cautionary tale” than anything else, to remind and/or educate just how far we’ve fallen as a community and a country from ideals of “fairness” and charity.” As I write this, we STILL don’t have a place to live, and I am not even getting applications due to my credit rating, born of so many hardships of the past (heart attacks, 2008, divorce (with an ex refusing to work outside the home for every one of our 13 years). The boys and I are scared, and distracted, while I do what I can to keep them and my practice moving forward. Am I missing anything? Is a “Go Fund Me” page lame, or a smart move given our urgent circumstances. Do any of you have leads on guest houses, property owners, or office space? Anything, really, other than “thoughts and prayers” I think my hair will burst into flames if I hear that again. Some of us here have relationships on Twitter, others I know check in with me from time to time, hell, even the trolls are welcome to pitch in. I am NOT seeking pity. I just don’t want to go quietly into that dark night without putting my story down on paper. Marriage (or roommate) proposals will be seriously considered. Thanks, you all.
“Dear Friends and Family:
You are all people who have shown great love and care for my family over the years, and I am very fortunate to have you all in our lives. My sons and I are facing an extreme crisis right now, one that, if not resolved soon and well, will have enormous and long-lasting consequences for all or us.
Please read this.
We’re being evicted. Evicted from our beautiful 2-bedroom flat directly across from Roxbury Park, where I have lived for 23 years – the longest I’ve lived anywhere – and where my sons were born and raised. Our flat sits in the shadow of the High School both boys attend, across from the Park where our dogs have run, and where 1,000’s of footballs have been thrown. And the flat is not just our home, it is my office, the likes of which would easily cost $4,000 – $5,000 a month in Beverly Hills, IF you could replicate it. “How can this happen,” you ask? The answer is, much easier than you can imagine.
In Beverly Hills, a tenant can be evicted on 60 days notice for “no cause.” The only “penalty” the owner endures in a “no cause” eviction is the obligation to pay “relocation fees,” and the inability to raise the rent on new tenants for a year. And they have plenty of ways of getting around both, but it doesn’t matter. In our fourplex, my upstairs back neighbor, a 31-year tenant, was recently thrown out under the same circumstances. Two “sham” tenants (30-somethings) took over her place, and never even bothered to move in. They were no doubt planted there by the owner, allowing him to jack up the rent. It’s not uncommon and, since a new BH Ordinance has come out, favorable to tenants, long-term renters are getting booted from every street. Now, after only 2 months, my new “neighbors” are gone, and for this, a woman lost her home of 31 years.
This is the person I am dealing with. Someone who could require a 62 year old man to leave his home of 23 years, and further force his two sons to relocate in the last third of the school year (two full months will remain when our 60 days run out). I don’t have time to be in shock, and the clock is running. And please don’t waste time thinking about how it might be our/my “fault.” There is only one motivation here, and that is money. Money always wins.
So, we have less than 2 months to find a place to live. My credit is non-existent, I have 2 children and 3 dogs. My housekeeper will take the two little dogs; as hard as that is, I just cannot lose Butters as well, so we’ll just have to get by. Meanwhile, imagine how high up on the ladder I rank as a prospective tenant. LOL And that doesn’t even begin to take into account the fact that there are few vacancies, most are very expensive, and I need to work – a lot – while taking care of the boys, the dogs, and so on and so forth. Yet, now I have to add apartment hunting to the mix.
And what if I don’t manage to find a place in the 51 days remaining? That’s where it gets really interesting. Well, one option – if we cannot find something — would be to find a place(s) where the boys could stay for the last 2 months of school. That way, I could take the “relocation fee” and use it to keep them cared for. Again, Butters would stay with me. We would go . . . well, I haven’t figured that part out yet. Maybe we could stay together for those 2 months, it all depends.
Another option would be to fight. Fight as hard as I could, with whatever weapons I could muster, against the Unlawful Detainer lawsuit that would very quickly be filed after we overstayed the 60 Notice. I would have to use every legal trick in the book just to try and keep the boys and I here until school was out. I would lose in the end, with an award of attorney’s fees assessed against me, but at least my sons would likely see the year through. A lot of stress for me, mind you, and completely unnecessary pressure on my sons, and I would still need to find time to work. It’s a bit overwhelming, truth be told.
So what then? If I stay, and succeed in beating the odds by winning the Unlawful Detainer (“UD”) action, I would manage to keep us here long enough for the boys to finish up school. Relocation fees? Obviously no longer available. But we would then only face another 60-day Notice immediately after the UD proceeding was done. Having graduated, my oldest son is intending to join family in Fresno. If I don’t find some other place to live, my youngest would then most likely have to join him, and finish out high school in some Fresno institution. Great resume value, huh?
Me? Technically, I’d be homeless, office-less and possession-less. Again, the landlady would take our little dogs, Lucy and Ethel, and so it would just be Butters and me. The street seems to one option, because I honestly don’t have a clue as to other options. As most of you know, I don’t have very much money. And during this entire process I just described, I’m not entirely sure how I would be earning any. Sitting in Starbucks to get online? There are no “jobs” awaiting me; law firms are not in the market for hiring 62 year-old lawyers with no steady stream of business. Professionally, I’m on my own.
Honestly, I wish that this was all just me being “dramatic,” but if we don’t find a place to live in 57 days, what I just described are really the only options that I will have to keep the boys in school through June, which is obviously the top priority.
So, what do I ask from you? Well, from those far away, I only wanted to tell our story so that you would know where we are, and for you to send a kind thought now and again. I want the story of this injustice told. Ideas would help too, from anyone, but trust me; I have already gamed this situation out pretty far. For those who live closer, however, I am hoping – if even possible – for help that is a bit more concrete. Do you know anyone with a vacant apartment or guest house? Does anyone you know, know anyone who has either thing available? Do you have something?
Second, I need office space. Just an office (I have my own equipment). Do you know anyone who has a spare office, or would give me an office for work? Again, a small guesthouse or ever garage? In two months time, if I don’t have a place to practice law, I will be in a world of hurt, unable to even provide the minimum basics my sons require. Does anyone have any ideas or prospects in this area?
Anyway, that’s really it, folks. I suppose we’ll get through this like people get through most things, with some effort, some good fortune, and the love of friends and family. Thanks for listening.”
B E R K E S L A W
458 South Roxbury Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Office Phone: +1 (310) 788-9001
Mobile Phone: +1 (310) 251-0700