The word grace means hope…


root - Posted on 02 June 2003

Landlord tries to evict 87 year old African-American woman out of her home of 15 years once again- the people fight back

by Ashley Adams/PoorNewsNetwork Community Journalist

The word Grace means hope, wisdom, strength, beauty, a sense of what is right, thoughtfulness toward others, and divine influence acting in humans to make them pure and morally strong. Grace Wells, a Poverty Hero by POOR Magazine’s standards, is all of these things and in her fight against eviction she is bringing these qualities out in others.

On Thursday February 27th, I walked to the corner of Haight and Fillmore in front of the Café International. The 4 o’clock hour was one of clear skies, sunshine, and occasional cool breezes sweeping the people along in the hustle and bustle of the intersection.

This is where I met Ted Gullicksen of the SF Tenants Union who has been fighting with Grace against her eviction. Ted was the organizer of today’s march and picket. At first, it was Ted, myself, and one other woman. As minutes passed quickly amongst the shuffle of cars, buses, and pedestrians, people began to gather for the picket, getting off buses, or coming from around corners.

Grace Wells is an 87 year old African-American woman who lives at 908 Page Street. She has been served with her 3rd eviction notice under the Ellis Act which allows one to terminate responsibility as a land lord. The new property owner, June Croucher, has decided she wants to live in the entire Victorian rather than the empty flats above Grace’s apartment.

“Mark my words. This is about greed.” Tommi Avicoli Mecca from the Housing Rights Committee spoke through the megaphone to picketers and neighbors in front of Grace’s home which was the destination of the march.

This is not the first time an eviction attempt has been made. The landlady tried previously to evict Grace under the Ellis Act. The last attempt was a bluff. Grace refused to go, as she is a fighter, and the landlady, June Croucher, never followed through with the procedures to continue the eviction. Here we go again, though… she has been served with another notice.

“This neighborhood, this city is gonna change forever if people don’t stand up and fight for this…” These are just a few of the words spoken through the megaphone that echoed through the neighborhood of Grace Wells. About 25 people were present and the crowd grew by attracting neighbors and passers-by who were open and receptive to this issue. People were asking picket participants for flyers and information and the general consensus was one of care. People do care, the next step is to act upon what we care about.

Angela Alioto, former SF supervisor who is currently running for mayor, came to the picket in front of Grace’s home and spoke. “There is an American attack on Elderly people and it has got to stop. I pledge to go to court, or do whatever it is I can to stop this… we shouldn’t accept this. We should go after these people and see to it that Grace can stay here for the rest of her life.”

“Its not alright to pick on our elderly to make a quick buck.” Sam from the Tenderloin Housing Clinic spoke out as well as Dean Preston who is representing Grace in court.
“We must send a strong message to landlords that this is not alright. At some point the landlord will listen to us and stop this eviction.”

What can you do to help? Ted tells the picketers “We plan to go the courtroom and carry on protests to show judges that tenants have rights, not just landlords.” Support is needed during the jury trial in attempt to remove Grace from her home. The trial begins Monday March 3rd. At this time the courtroom number is unknown, but you can call the Tenderloin Housing Clinic starting Monday to find out where to go. 415.775.9850. You can also check the Tenants Union web site at www.sftu.org.

The protest was one of heart with people coming together from all over the city to care about the future health and well-being of an elder. Grace, who lives with arthritis, diabetes, and a heart condition should not be displaced into a system of carelessness when it comes housing, especially when proper, humane housing and care for our elders is practically non-existent unless a lot of money is involved.

I was happy to see Grace with my own eyes after being involved in a literary art project with POOR Magazine which transformed Grace into a Poverty Hero including myth, metaphor and fantasy and then included her story in the book “The Poverty Hero”.

The name Grace means one who is responsive, cool-headed, imaginative and she never forgets those who have helped…

When the picket was over, a man came down the front steps of Grace’s porch while Grace waved from the window he spoke on her behalf “Grace gives a big thank you for coming. She appreciates your support. We are hoping for the best.”

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