94-year-old Florida woman jailed for refusing to leave apartment
A 94-year-old woman in Eustis City, Florida was arrested on Tuesday for refusing to leave her apartment, even after being served with an eviction notice.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Juanita Fitzgerald got into trouble with the police for refusing to leave the senior housing community at the National Church Residences Franklin House.
The deputy present attempted to contact family members and other people close to Fitzgerald, and was even offered a place to stay, but she refused both bids, Lake County sheriff’s spokesman Fred Jones said in the report.
“Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere,” Fitzgerald said.
This prompted authorities to arrest the woman for trespassing; she spent two nights in the county jail but was released soon after and was turned over to a caregiver, John Herrell of the Lake County Sherriff’s Office said. Fitzgerald’s release came a day before she turned 94 on Friday.
As per report, Mid Florida Homeless Coalition board member B.E Thompson said that Fitzgerald tried to renew her leasing contract with the residence, but there were details in the contract that she did not agree with. Fitzgerald also said she thinks some of her neighbors might be resentful of her complaints with management, thereby making her unpopular. Her eviction was filed on Nov. 7, with Fitzgerald supposedly not having received legal aid to fight for her case, as the trial was over.
However, Fitzgerald had kept in touch with senior consumer services analyst for Florida, attorney general Pam Bandi’s office Chris Provenzano throughout the eviction process.
Describing Fitzgerald as “very opinionated,” Provenzano said that she started worrying about being evicted after she talked with the property manager, whom she alleged as “holding up a closed fist.”
Franklin House spokesperson Karen Twinem said that they followed protocol in the elderly woman’s eviction, adding that they spent months with her and collaborated with other agencies for safe housing options.
“Now that this matter is in the courts [as a trespassing case], it is our hope that it will be resolved quickly for her health and wellness,” Twinem told The Orlando Sentinel.
So far, Fitzgerald has spent her birthday in a motel, and is wondering where she will live. “We’re working with her to try to accommodate her as soon as possible,” Thompson said of the elderly woman’s situation. Katrina Hallare/JB
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