Agencies moving to help evicted 83-year-old woman

Dorothy Morris, 83, is in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday to fight her eviction from Sacramento Manor, a south area senior-living apartment complex where she said she has lived since March 2013.
Dorothy Morris, 83, is in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday to fight her eviction from Sacramento Manor, a south area senior-living apartment complex where she said she has lived since March 2013. afurillo@sacbee.com

Representatives from multiple agencies swung into action Wednesday to find a new home for an 83-year-old woman who lost her court case against a senior-living apartment complex that successfully evicted her.

“I’m trying to hold up, but I’m old and it’s not easy,” Dorothy Morris said, after talking with representatives of the three agencies – the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Resources for Independent Living and Sacramento County Adult Protective Services.

“I can’t break down,” Morris said. “I’m 84 years old, almost. I could have a heart attack. That’s what I’m scared of. I’ve gotta move and stuff and it’s a bit too much for me.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Christopher E. Krueger took the eviction case away from a jury following a 90-minute trial and issued a directed verdict that will require Morris to move out of Sacramento Manor by Jan. 2.

Krueger’s decision came after Sacramento Manor attorney Allison K. Wopschallasked for the directed verdict after the jury had left the courtroom. Krueger found in Sacramento Manor’s favor after conducting about 45 minutes of legal research.

According to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, a judge can return a directed verdict at any time in a trial if he or she determines “there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to reach a different conclusion.”

Wopschall could not be reached Wednesday. She argued at trial that the case came down to the simple terms of Sacramento Manor’s lease agreement with Morris that allowed either party to terminate her tenancy on a 30-day notice.

Sacramento Manor manager Jessica Dawn Gering testified in the trial that the landlord evicted Morris as part of its effort to rid itself of federally subsidized Section 8 tenants. She claimed the program has posed an administrative burden on the 260-unit senior-living complex.

The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency administers the subsidized housing voucher program locally. SHRA spokesman Angela Jones said Tuesday her agency planned to contact Sacramento Manor as well as officials in Resources for Independent Living and Adult Protective Services about Morris’ case.

Morris, who represented herself at trial, said Wednesday she was contacted during the day by representatives from all three agencies.

“I’ve gotta get out of here and they’re going to get me some place at least temporarily,” Morris said.

Adult Protective Services offered her a place to stay in a 30-day residential facility, according to Morris, who said that she is scheduled to meet on Thursday with a representative from Resources for Independent Living.

“They want me to come down there so they can show me some places,” Morris said.

Officials from the agencies declined to discuss Morris case in specifics due to confidentiality provisions.

Adult Protective Services program manager Ruth MacKenzie said that in cases like Morris’ her agency will search its lists for landlords who take Section 8 residents. MacKenzie said Adult Protective Services also has “myriad senior housing complexes we know and refer clients to,” and that it also makes referrals to board and care homes.

Frances Gracechild, the executive director of Resources for Independent Living, said that Morris’ “portable voucher” should make it easier for her to find a new place to live.

“They can be used anywhere,” Gracechild said.

Gracechild added, however, that landlords from all over the country are choosing like Sacramento Manor to stop taking Section 8 tenants.

“We have many cases like this, quite frankly,” Gracechild said. “We’re losing our low-income housing stock.”

Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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