Mother, Son With AIDS Get Reprieve of Eviction : Controversy: Mobile home park management agrees to meet with the tenants’ attorney.
A mother and her AIDS-afflicted son, who faced eviction from the Huntington Beach mobile home park in which they live, won a temporary reprieve Friday, according to their lawyer.
Management at the Huntington Shorecliffs Mobile Home Park had ordered 39-year-old Steven Lewis to vacate his mother’s trailer, saying park rules require residents to be at least 55 years old.
If he did not leave by today, management warned, his mother would be evicted in 60 days.
Believing the park was discriminating against her son, who suffers from advanced AIDS, Shirley Lewis hired a lawyer and vowed to fight.
“My son deserves some quality of life,” said Shirley Lewis, 61, who has provided round-the-clock care for her son since April, when he ran out of money and became too weak to take care of himself.
After a tension-filled week, in which scores of people phoned the Lewises and the mobile home park to voice strong opinions about the case, management agreed Friday to delay the eviction process, at least until after a Tuesday meeting with the Lewises’ lawyer.
“At least we can enjoy the weekend,” Shirley Lewis said.
Lawyers for the mobile home park did not return phone calls Friday, but William B. Carolan, who represents the Lewises, said he views the softening of management’s position as reason for hope. “If they felt completely within their rights, there would be no need to have a face-to-face meeting,” Carolan said. “I’ve got to believe this is a positive sign.”
Even if an agreement can’t be worked out, a member of the U.S. attorney’s office said the mobile home park may become the target of an investigation.
After reading about the Lewises, Asst. U.S. Atty. Suzanne Bell said her office would likely intercede if the family continues to be threatened with eviction.
“The Department of Justice thinks this is a good case,” Bell said. “We think under the fair-housing statute, landlords or homeowners are required to make reasonable accommodations.”
Though Shorecliffs is a senior citizens park, Bell said, there are provisions within the law for exceptions.
The U.S. attorney’s office can involve itself, however, only after Shirley Lewis asks management in writing for permission to house her son, something she never did because she believed management supported her efforts to care for him.
“I want to urge Ms. Lewis to make a special request,” Bell said.
Besides writing such a request, Shirley Lewis may spend the next few weeks penning thank-you notes.
For several days, she and her son have been deluged with expressions of support from throughout Southern California, she said, the outpouring of empathy and good will boosting her faith just when it was flagging.
“I just had a couple drive up to my door,” Shirley Lewis said. “This gentleman that I have never seen in my life, he said, ‘I read about you in the paper, my wife and I found out where you live here in the park, and if there’s anything, anything, I can do, please, please call me. Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to call me.’ ”
Shirley Lewis said she and her son spent a pleasant Thanksgiving, a surprising end to a week in which they felt wholly alone.
“I thought I was all by myself,” she said. “Now I find out I have friends everywhere. I have people giving me their prayers, their love, their support, that I’ve never met. . . . I can’t help but feel that something nice is going to happen.”