Death by eviction

root - Posted on 07 November 2000

84 year old woman dies while being evicted from residence of 40 years

by J.R. Johnson and Tiny

Lola Mckay’s body lies at rest now after a long battle against eviction. On Sunday Oct. 29th, 2000, The protest crowd against evictions, of nearly 50 people, in a way presented a requiem to honor Ms. Mckay.

It all started in January of 1999. Not the beginning of someone’s life. But the slow, vicious journey to someone’s untimely death. The death of an elder in our community. A death by eviction.

In January of last year, 83 year old Lola McKay was served an Ellis act eviction from her home of 40 years by a real estate speculator associated with Vanguard Properties.

After a life frought with crisis and tragedy which left Lola with no living kin, she had only hoped to live the rest of her life in her own home. Now she faced eviction and homelessness. She decided to fight.

With legal representation from Raquel Fox at the Tenderloin Housing Committee and the organizing efforts of the Tenants Union, a rally was planned at the courthouse at 100 McAllister where her court hearing would take place. This would be the first and last time that Lola Mckay would appear in public. They lost in court , and rather than face a lengthy, strenous battle that she might not win Lola and her attorney accepted a settlement offer. Twelve more months in her home. Twelve more months to live...I think that’s how she saw it. In March of this year Lola Mckay died in her sleep...of natural causes they say....

The postscript of this story is the live eulogy to Lola - and the thousands of tenants like her who are being evicted from their residences ....

The sun was glistening on a carmel colored door in the middle of a four unit flat. 55 Alvarado street. This was Lola Mckays home. An open house was planned for today. Her unit would be sold for 1/2 a million dollars as a “new” and improved unit. In the middle of the carmel door was the only ray of hope for this reporter; OPEN HOUSE CANCELED

“What do we want? - to stop evictions..When do we want it? Now!!!” As I studied the small white cancellation notice scotch-taped to the glistening front door, protestors marched in front of the building in a rally organized by The San Franciso Tenants Union and Housing Rights Committee to protest the selling of Ms. Mckays unit as million dollar condo. They canceled the open house because of the protest. Some part of Lola’s misery would be vindicated.

“Twenty apartments per week are being sold empty- with no record of eviction on file” Ted Gullickson from the Tenants Union explained, “the Ellis Act has too many restrictions, so most landlords try to avoid actually filing them and send out notices to evict or inform the tenants about their plans to evict and then the tenants respond by leaving. We track all the vacant apartments sold each month and who is actually selling them, we will continue to protect these illegal sales...” He took a breath.. “Lola Mckay was a very healthy woman and she would have lived for several more years, this eviction killed her ..there’s no doubt about that.


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