My Santa Ana Urban Camping Trip

Talk about the vacation from hell! As soon as I get back I'm suing my travel agent and making damned sure they fire the tour guide.

I've mentioned a few details of my past and current life from time to time. Long time regular readers of MyDD are aware that I am a long time member of Alcoholics Anonymous. For the last three years I have been living in a sober living home while I tried to find a competent bankruptcy attorney and get some financial wreckage cleared up. Last fall I got laid off from GreenPoint Mortgage, which Lou Dobbs has listed on his Exporting America Hall of Shame. When I was hired we had seven people in my department and when I was laid off there was one person who had just been hired two weeks earlier.

I had about two months left on my unemployment so I decided it was time to pick the best job available and move on with my life. I told the manager of my sober living home that March would be my last month. On February 24th I had two voice mails telling me to pack my shit up and move out. I went back and was told I had one hour pack my shit up and leave.

Knowing that it was physically impossilbe to move everything in one hour and also a violation of California law to evict someone with a telephonic notice of eviction, I called the Anaheim police department. To my great surprise they agreed that I had to pack up my possessions and be off the property in one hour. I returned the next day to pick up some food, toiltries and hearing aid batteries. I had called the Anaheim police department and they talked to the property manager for about twenty minutes, but he refused permission for me to get any more of my personal property and they said there wasn't anything they could do about it, because it was a civil matter. I would have to sue my landlord to stop him from stealing everything I couldn't load up in my Hyundai in one hour.

I stopped by the Anaheim police department the following Monday to clear up their confusion about allowing the landlord to steal all of my property. They insisted it was a civil matter and I would have to hire an attorney. I also stopped by the Anaheim City Attorney's office twice. The second time I was told that if I thought I had a righteous case against them I should sue. I thought that was excellent legal advice, so I paid a visit to Steve Young and discovered he had handled landlord/tenant cases. Steve has provided some free legal advice, written a letter to my landlord and offered to talk to the lawyer or program director of the second sober living home that evicted me a little over a week ago.

I have since discovered that there may not be a single police department in California who knows what their proper role is in a landlord tenant dispute. I have also had a couple of problems with Orange County and Los Angeles hotels and when I stopped by the Rampart station in L.A. I disovered they did not have a copy of the California Code that covers landlord tenant law. Police departments in California are only provided copies of the penal code. They rely on the City Attorney to provide them guidelines in how to handle landlord/tenant disputes.

It has been an interesting three months. I stayed at the National Guard Armory on Warner during the month of March. I have been living out of my car and in an occassional hotel room during April and May. I'm doing just fine, because I've had prior experience at being homeless, but my financial situation leaves something to be desired. From previous experience I am confident everything will work out one way or the other. I thought I was out of the woods until I had my car impounded in the city or Orange as I was driving back to Santa Ana with the title to my car so I could turn it over to my bank in exchange for restructuring an unsecured $2,000 loan into a $2,700 loan secured by my car which I would immediately sell for about $5,500, pay off the new loan and have some operating capital. Like I said, things work out one way or the other. Sometimes they work out as expected and sometimes they work out unexpectedly. Lately, things have generally been working out unexpectedly.

Whatever happens to me, I am taking down two non-profit sober living home organizations in Orange County. One is called D.A.R.T. and the other is referred to as The Action Alliance. I stopped by the D.A.'s office last Friday and talked to an investigator named Hector. He was very interested in my story of how sober living homes "exit" residents with absolutely no notice. "Exiting" someone instead of evicting them is a legal term of art that Hector was not familiar with and he is looking forward to finding out more about the process. Hector asked me to write a Letter of Explanation (LOE) about my experience and submit it to the D.A.'s felony investigation squad. I should have something for him later this week.

In the very near future there are going to be some very surprised property owners in Orange County. I am sure they will be absolutely shocked to discover they have been participants in a criminal syndicate. They may even be as surprised as Ken Lay was when he was informed he was being indicted. Regardless of how things turn out, I intend to proceed with my War Against Homelessness. I am going to hound the bastards who have been kicking people out into the streets with no notice to the gates of hell and beyond. They will not know a minutes peace and will be spending a great deal of time in court and a great deal of money on lawyers.

I'll keep MyDD readers posted on events as they unfold. For now, I have to stop by the pawn shop and pick up some cash for my Apple G4 laptop. Gotta run.

Tags: homelessness (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

Re: My Santa Ana Urban Camping Trip

Gary, this might be too little too late, but here's a link to the Landlord-Tenant section of the California Civil Code.

Short answer: assuming this was a month-to-month tenancy and you weren't in any sort of default, you're entitled to at least 30 days written notice (Civil Code 1946). Not only did these clowns violate that but they engaged in self-help eviction instead of using the legal process. You can probably also make a showing of "forcible entry." The damages still probably wouldn't be enough to entice your basic ambulance chaser to take your case on contingency, but with good pro-bono help you could probably win a suit on this matter. (In my humble opinion. That's not legal advice.)

I Googled who might be a good resource for pro-bono legal services for someone in your shoes, and these guys seem like a good bet, if you haven't already talked to them, is the Fair Housing Council for Orange County's Landlord/Tenant Legal Assistance. Now go raise some hell.

by Crazy Vaclav 2006-05-24 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: My Santa Ana Urban Camping Trip

Gary,

Your story really moved me here when I read it.  Your optimism and take it all in stride attitude is extremely admirable.  I’d like to encourage you to give us a paypal link, but I’m afraid it might be too late if you’ve gone to pawn your laptop!  Maybe if your are still out there, give us a chance to help you out.

Maybe some other people reading this would like to recommend the diary as well, and we can get a little fund drive going for Gary!  Notice that he didn’t ask for anything either!  Let’s help a fellow DDer out who is down (but obviously not out!).  Come on people!

by Spartacus 2006-05-24 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: My Santa Ana Urban Camping Trip

Gary, take care of yourself in this liminal time.

I know you need cash and a roof, and not advice, but advice is what I have at the moment.

I would urge you to sort out a place to stay and a source of income before pursuing justice. Legal matters can drag out endlessly, and you should be off the street before you get sucked into such a thing. What you are describing: landlords who are taking advantage, police who don't know the laws, and skeptical lawyers is not an environment that gives you a lot of advantages.

If you really want to accomplish something, try to get into a position where you have some strength and some resources. Don't let them write you off. Get yourself sorted out before you devote yourself full-time to "taking down" these two non-profits.

That's just my two cents. Do what you have to do.

by thief 2006-05-24 06:18PM | 0 recs
just curious why they would want to kick you out
Why is it so frequent? Why would the landlords kick out guests that frequently? Do they engage in finding someone who will pay them just a little bit more? Are these sober living homes funded?
Sounds outrageous what was done to you. I am positive you have rights because my uncle couldn't evict even a bad tenant who refused to pay his rent for months. I know it varies by state, but damn, I doubt the landlords have a case. The burden of proof would be on them.
by Pravin 2006-05-24 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: My Santa Ana Urban Camping Trip

Unbelievable.

I broke up with my boyfriend a month ago. He owed (owes) me $150. I had some of his belongings and wanted to hold his stuff until he paid me back. He called the police of the town I live in. I pay property taxes (he is not a homeowner.)

They told me that I had no rights, that since he had lived with me for more than two weeks I had to let him into my home. When I told them I was bipolar (axis 1) with a severe panic disorder and I was at the point of having "an episode," they told me they didn't believe in that stuff and to stay out of the way.

He drove off in a truck with an expired tag (that he stole from me), no drivers license, insurance and a few of my tools. He was drunk. They knew it.

What can one do? I told them very politely that it was my taxes that paid their salary and they were supposed to protect me and they were male chauvinist you-know-whats.

One day at a time. That's all you can do. Wait for a bright moment and hold on for dear life. That's my key to happiness.

Best regards.

by misscee 2006-05-25 04:46AM | 0 recs

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