102-year-old Ladera Heights Woman Faces Eviction to Make Room for Landlords’ Daughter

Thelma Smith. Photo: Go Fund Me.

Thelma Smith given until June 30 to find a new home

By Sam Catanzaro

A 102-year-old Ladera Heights woman is being evicted from her home to make room for her landlords’ daughter.

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On March 8, Thelma Smith was given notice by her landlord that she must vacate the single-family home she has lived in for almost 30 years by June 30.

“The dwelling is needed as her principal place of residence,” reads the notice in which the landlords told Smith they were ending her month-to-month lease to make room for their daughter who recently graduated from law school.

The eviction noticed attracted national attention, including a tweet from former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who tweeted: “Thelma has been a dear friend for a long time. Imagine doing this to a 102-year-old woman who gave back to the community her whole life. It is heartless. Thelma, I’ll be reaching out to help. Landlords, you’ll hear from me too.”

Smith formerly served as Executive Secretary for the Sugar Ray Youth Foundation for over 20 years,  an organization with the mission to build self-esteem for underprivileged youth and prevent juvenile delinquency.

In response to the attention this eviction notice has garnered, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) this week announced they are investigating whether the eviction notice complied with the County’s interim Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which places limits on residential evictions in the unincorporated areas.

“The last thing our centenarians should be concerned about is a place to call home. My objective is to bring all the resources the County has to bear to deliver a prompt and dignified resolution to this matter,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

DCBA said they are working collaboratively with multiple County departments and agencies to investigate the matter and identify services available to the tenant.

“We will ensure the resident is informed of her rights and connect her to every appropriate form of help through our County departments,” said DCBA Director Joseph Nicchitta.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been set up by Smith’s family and friends to provide the 102-year-old widow funds for housing in the event she is evicted.

“Thelma is currently facing homelessness and is in need of funds for relocation, possible housing and care. “Thelma is a strong and ever resilient woman who has done much for her community now seeks financial help,” reads the campaign description.”

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