Richard Kavanagh died a month ago, he was nearly 80 and his death was hastened by failures within city and county government as well as the greed of his landlord. He was my friend and I, along with his friends and family miss him a great deal.
Richard and his wife, Helen, were evicted from their home of 50 years by their landlord, Marjaneh Hosseani, because she claimed she wanted to move in her parents.
The Kavanaghs lived in a duplex, which are not covered under any current tenant protection laws, despite San Jose Councilman Don Rocha’s repeated efforts. He has asked his colleagues on the City Council to include duplexes under the Tenant Protection Ordinance. But they failed to do so on April 19, 2016, Jan. 21, 2017, April 18, 2017, and most recently on Nov. 14, 2017.
I do hope they’ll reconsider the issue soon.
During the fight to remain in their home, the Kavanaghs contacted Senior Adults Legal Assistance (SALA), thinking they would help them. I was advocating for the Kavanaghs in media, with elected officials and any other organization that might assist them as well.
I’ve been an advocate a long time and I’ve been up against some fierce adversaries, but never have I encountered more opposition than from SALA—from someone who should have been an ally since they were working FOR the Kavanaghs, just like I was. Even after the Kavanaghs instructed them to speak to me—to ease their stress—they refused. They harassed the Kavanaghs with multiple phone calls per day, even when they knew they were ill, harassed their daughter, and made an already stressful situation awful. The way they treated this family is reprehensible and I hope somebody looks into this.
Santa Clara County has failed to prepare for the Silver Tsunami that is here—the Baby Boomers who need low-income assisted living, who are filling the food pantry lines in record numbers and, among the unhoused, died at an increased rate of 320 percent between 2011 and 2015. In San Jose, there are yearlong wait lists for low-income assisted living while market-rate assisted living costs anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000—quite the high price tag for most seniors.
Sure, there’s some senior housing being built—that will take a few years to be of any use—but this crisis has been forecast for a long, long time.
I’ve asked the county to commission a blue ribbon panel to address the Silver Tsunami, the lack of affordable housing, assisted living, seniors who go hungry and the lack of options at existing agencies. When you speak to the public and nonprofit senior services agencies, they are just as dispirited as advocates like myself because there are literally no other avenues for them to pursue.
The one option some folks repeatedly tried to insist upon was for the Kavanaghs to move out of the county. This was the same option some tried to insist on with Paul Mayer, the 92-year-old WWll veteran who was evicted by the DeMaio family from his home of nearly 50 years. This was the same thing said about some of the senior resident who’d lived at The Reserve for over 20 years. The lack of empathy, logic or compassion that people have for our seniors is startling.
To think folks could leave areas where they build their community—shops, churches, family members, doctors, friends—over decades at their age and not have a negative impact on their health shows real ignorance. Moving them at all, let alone to areas where they are unfamiliar with everything, can bring about illness and hasten death.
That’s why it has a name: Relocation Stress Syndrome/Transfer Trauma.
When the DeMaio family evicted Mayer, they essentially placed him in hospice. When Hosseani evicted Richard Kavanagh, she hastened his death.
When groups like Bay Area Homeowners Network (BAHN) or the California Apartment Association (CAA) whine about things not being fair to landlords and that these “mom and pop” owners can make a profit, remember the moms and pops who were evicted and killed in the name of their profits.
Evictions kill seniors.