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3 families evicted from So. LA home despite 'slum' conditions

March 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Three families living in a South Los Angeles home are being evicted despite claims that they are living in slum conditions.

The families said their bathrooms are covered in mold, the windows are broken out, the walls and ceilings have gaping holes and rats infest the kitchen.

They also said they've been living without electricity for seven months, since their landlord was foreclosed on by Fannie Mae, leaving them with an $18,000 electricity bill. Living without electricity is causing one tenant's children to struggle with homework.

Tenants and advocate organizations said they have repeatedly asked Fannie Mae to make repairs, but that Fannie Mae has not responded and refused to make the repairs or foot the electricity bill.

"Hundreds of properties that Fannie Mae owns that are being subsidized by tax payer money, and they are being irresponsible," said Paulina Gonzalez of the Strategic Action for a Just Economy.

A Fannie Mae spokesperson refuted Gonzalez's statement, saying their goal has always been to advocate for occupants' rights. They also said that representatives of the bank have tried repeatedly to reach the tenants, but no one at the home responded.

Fannie Mae said in a statement: "Due to the occupant's lack of response to our repeated attempts at contact, we were left with no choice but to move forward with a foreclosure eviction...the lack of responsiveness prevented the property manager from determining the occupants eligibility and inspecting the property for interior repair needs. In addition, we found that the property was fenced and locked."

But Gonzalez isn't buying it.

"I would say Fannie Mae is dishonest. The tenants have called Fannie Mae to even ask where they can pay their rents, and Fannie Mae refuses to even give them information," Gonzalez said.

While Fannie Mae representatives said they've made numerous attempts to contact the tenants to no avail, the Los Angeles Housing Department said they've also contacted Fannie Mae, requiring the bank to evict the tenants because of a zoning violation. The single family home is only meant to house one family, not three.

In response to media inquiries, Fannie Mae promised to reassign a property management company to visit the home to establish tenancy.

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