PROBE: Dec. 12, 2001

December 12, 2001

QUESTION: The Imperial Valley Housing Authority is evicting my friend if she can't come up with $556 by 3 today (Monday).

She has $230 but the Housing Authority says she has to pay the whole amount by today or face eviction.

They say she owes two months rent but she tried to pay the rent in November. The Housing Authority would not accept it then because it wanted to evict her and her four kids.

They had charged her with fees and damage beyond normal wear to her other house when the Housing Authority moved her to a smaller unit.

She appealed the eviction notice and won. The administrative hearing officer said she could pay the damage penalties in payments.

Now the Housing Authority wants the rent for November and December. Can you help?

P.S. She managed to get $300 but the Housing Authority would not relent or give her time to come up with the rest. — Helpless Friend, Brawley


You're right. Housing Authority Director Andrea Roark would not budge an inch. Your friend should have hung onto the November rent money, she said.

Even the Imperial Irrigation District is not that tough when it negotiates to leave the power connected for a few more days while a consumer scrambles for more money.

Roark saw no merit in our argument that when there's not a nickel leeway in a budget, it's awfully tough to hang onto $200 for a month. We're talking "working poor" here.

Even as we spoke with Roark, the soon-to-be-evicted woman was in the Housing Authority office trying to trade $300 for a little mercy — and time to raise the rest of the money.

Roark clung to her list of "should haves" to which we add our own contribution. The lady should have been born into a well-connected family — or at least have married well.

Instead she married a man with a job and back child support, leaving him with a take-home paycheck of $86 a week.

QUESTION: I just had my house sprayed for bugs. The exterminator told me that in Calexico, the city condemned two houses because the bug man sprayed the homes with an illegal chemical, chlordane. Is that true? — Debugged, rural Seeley

It's not true, according to Bob Williams, the city's chief building official. There has never been a house condemned in Calexico due to improper pesticide use.

"At least it has never happened in my tenure. And I've been here 12 years," Williams said.

We're inclined to believe Williams. Pesticide use is tightly controlled by both state and federal law. Applicators take tough examinations to get an applicator's license. We doubt they would put their licenses at risk by using an illegal spray.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS — Please pass this $40 to the woman who lost the cash from her "last welfare check" at Wal-Mart. I know it won't pay the rent but maybe it will help. — Generous, No Address

That makes three $20 bills to arrive in envelopes. Now we're hoping that young mother will call us. The phone number we have for her doesn't seem to be working. And we need your address. Thank you.

HELP FOR NILAND WOMAN — I don't have any money to help the woman who lost $500 at Wal-Mart but I have some stuffed toys in good shape for the children. I would be glad to give them to her so the kids will have Christmas. — Grandma, Brawley

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

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