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Eviction after complaining

Cancer victim, disabled husband being tossed out

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Eviction after complaining

Paul Chavez holds the notice he received from his landlord that his lease wasn't be renewed as well as a County Environmental Health notice that his detached garage can't be used anymore. He says t...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin/


POSTED December 26, 2008 12:50 a.m.
LATHROP – Paul Chavez didn’t quite know what to make of the letter he received in his mailbox last week.
Christmas was just a week away for the wheelchair-bound man – who spends the majority of his time taking care of a wife suffering from advanced cancer in their Lathrop home.
Now he’s being told he needs to find a new place to live.
Despite his claims that he was never late with a rent payment, Chavez received a notice from a landlord that the lease he signed at the end of last January wasn’t being renewed and that he has 60 days to vacate the premises.
While covering the rent of a new place won’t be a problem, he says, gathering the money for the deposit will be next to impossible.
“It’s just been one thing after another ever since we moved in here,” Chavez said of the rural Lathrop property he thought would be perfect when he moved away from a subsidized housing project in Tracy. “We’ve had problems with the plumbing, the electrical started a fire, and now we’re being told that we’ve got to find a new place to live.
“It’s almost too much to handle.”
Over the course of the last 12 months, Chavez said he didn’t hesitate to tell his property manager or Bay Area-based landlord the problems he was having with his rental house.
Water backups in the laundry room turned up faulty piping. Eventually the house’s detached garage got red-flagged by San Joaquin County’s Environmental Health Department after he filed a complain about bad wiring that he believes may have started a fire on the outside of the house over the summer.
When the power recently got knocked out to the house and left his wife’s oxygen machine inoperable, he says that calls to the manager weren’t exactly well received.
“It’s not like I can’t have a washing machine – I’ve got hospital gowns and blankets that I have to wash for my wife,” Chavez said. “But it’s like once we started complaining about the problems then we became too much of a problem for them.
“It’s bad enough have an owner that lives in the Bay Area that doesn’t care, but when the property manager’s telling us he’s going to charge $100 every time he has to come out about something – that’s acting like a slumlord.”
Even with the complaints, Chavez spent the majority of the last several days not tending to his wife or preparing for the holidays, but driving around to local trailer parks hoping to find an easy place to move into.
It’s one of the easiest ways, he says, to make sure that he isn’t forced with having to put his wife into a home. It is something that Hospice social workers suggested when he informed them of the predicament.
But his disability and his responsibilities – which also include of taking care of his children and a grandchild he has legal custody of – don’t exactly give him a lot of options or chances to come up with the money needed to secure a new spot.
“I haven’t been able to find anything – I’ve been everywhere around here,” Chavez said. “And I came out from the Bay Area so that I wasn’t tempted with the things I used to be involved in or the friends in my past.
“Everyone in my family that’s died have died at home with their family around, and I don’t want to have to get a call from a home telling me that wife just passed away.”
Anyone with information about how Chavez might be able to find help with his housing situation, or knows of a local organization that can be of assistance, can call him at (209) 221-2272.
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