Hoping to find a home

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island

    Kathleen Cleary shuffles eviction paperwork in the doorway of her apartment at Lihue Court Townhomes last week.

LIHUE — Two senior citizens are being evicted from the apartment they’ve lived in for the past decade, and they say they have nowhere to go.

“If he puts us out, I’ll be dead,” Buddy Cleary said Wednesday, through his oxygen mask.

The oxygen tank the 69-year-old is tethered to is his lifeline, and part of the reason he and his wife Kathleen face eviction.

On Jan. 30, the Clearys were served with an eviction notice, stating they violated the terms of their occupancy agreement with Lihue Court Townhomes by “continuing to smoke inside the unit while having oxygen tanks and an oxygen concentrator.”

During an inspection of their home in January, an apartment manager said he found evidence that the tenants had been smoking inside. Buddy Cleary said he started smoking his cigarettes outside since he’s been using the oxygen respirator after his surgery several months ago.

They were ordered to vacate the premises by Feb. 20, but “we haven’t been able to find anything,” Kathleen Cleary said.

“We’ve been looking for about three months now,” the 72-year-old said. “There’s nothing available. Either it won’t pass HUD or the rent is too high.”

According to a civil complaint filed last week in Fifth Circuit Court on behalf of Lihue Court Townhomes Corporation, the Clearys have violated their rental agreement a number of times since November 2016.

The Clearys disagree.

Because the Clearys’ monthly income is only about $1,400 — the total of their combined Social Security benefits — they are entitled to rental assistance under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 voucher program.

The Clearys say their landlord wants them out in order to free up the apartment for a tenant not covered under the HUD program who would be required to pay the full rent.

A spokesperson for Mutual Housing Association of Hawaii, a nonprofit organization that oversees the management and operations of Lihue Court Townhomes, said Thursday the Clearys accusations are baseless.

According to the spokesperson, many of the Lihue Court residents are on HUD assistance, and the association embraces Section 8 tenants as part of its mission to provide affordable housing.

Their first court hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 11. For now, the elderly couple is simply holding out hope that another apartment will become available before they find themselves out on the street.

“It’s always sad when these things happen,” said MaBel Ferreiro-Fujiuchi, CEO of Kauai Economic Opportunity (KEO).

But she explained there are resources available to the Clearys. KEO runs a homeless shelter that opens at 5 p.m. and provides meals, beds and bathrooms for those in need. Clothing, food and even airline tickets can be provided to the island’s homeless through KEO programs.

Ferreiro-Fujiuchi said the Clearys can also apply to stay at the KEO’s transitional shelter, which offers a more-long-term solution, or submit an application for one of the HUD homes available for families through KEO.

  1. Imua44 March 3, 2019 6:16 am Reply

    If these folks were smoking weed it would be ok and everyone would defend them, but cigarettes, oh lord no…bab bad. Newsflash all you out there there are tens of millions of smokers and they have equal rights. Weed smokers are cool in the Kauai mind.

    1. Arien May 4, 2019 2:49 pm Reply

      It’s not because he was smoking, it was because he was smoking while USING HIS OXYGEN TANK.

  2. gordon oswald March 3, 2019 7:50 am Reply

    What am I missing here? I thought we were all human beings who make decisions that affect our lives and we have to live with the outcome of those decisions? If it’s against the law or lease, DON’T DO IT! This case is doubly baffling? If a person is on Oxygen because of poor lungs and is using that as a reason for people to have empathy he should get it. If a person makes all the wrong decisions he has to accept and live with the results of his decisions! Smoking cigarettes while on Oxygen that can blow up an entire building? Smoking cigarettes with diseased and debilitating lungs, WRONG DECISION! It seems this gentleman deserves exactly what he is getting, and probably even worse!

  3. Bluedream March 3, 2019 10:32 am Reply

    Or, or, or….he can quit smoking since you know, the guy is on an oxygen tank. Are we really supposed to suspend common sense and take their side?

  4. ruthann jones March 3, 2019 1:04 pm Reply

    so they can smoke at the shelter?? I think not. TOUGH decision but far to dangerous to condo neighbors.

  5. Bfeller March 4, 2019 11:17 pm Reply

    Oxygen concentrator, oxygen tanks, and smoking don’t mix. This elderly couple continue to smoke in their apartment with oxygen present. They made a conscious decision to put everyone in their apartment complex at risk. No landlord is going to risk their property at risk for fire and loss to this couple. They have already shown they feel themselves above the rules and feel entitled to do whatever they want. All they have done by making their story public is to warn off potential landlords

  6. Terrie Lazarus April 25, 2019 7:14 pm Reply

    Here is the sad outcome to this story. Mr Cleary died the day before Mrs Cleary was evicted. Any good property manager would not have evicted Mrs Cleary because they were being evicted per smoking and oxygen of Mr Cleary. Rolland Ruiz and all his false accusers are beyond cruel.
    I have been trying to help Mrs Cleary with life changing issues and Mr. Cleary was cremated and still at the mortuary. I am going to start something to get donations to pay the $1200 she still owes the mortuary.If interested call me at 652-9970 or terrielazarus@gmail.com
    I live in the complex and I am having huge problems with the management. The property
    manager Rolland and his workers lie and have done false accusations against me. I just went through a hate crime from a neighbor because and I am white, police were called to protect me and Rolland gave me a notice of violating the lease for noise. The night my car was scratched up so badly it needs a new paint job and then a chemical was sprayed on car and I had a chemical burn on my hand the grasps the door handle. Its a dangerous place to live and there ratings on apartments.com telll even more.
    So this story will be continued and you will know this event that happened to the Cleary’s needs to be investigated for the emotional and mental distress that may be the cause of his death. Pray for Mrs Cleary.

    1. Arien May 4, 2019 2:47 pm Reply

      These ARE NOT false accusations. They lived across from me and I watched him EVERY DAY stand outside with his oxygen tank attached to him SMOKING, risking blowing up the entire building. They were REPEATEDLY TOLD to stop. They DID NOT.

  7. Fran June 22, 2019 11:54 pm Reply

    I live in the complex and it’s a simple thing. They pass out a set of rules for you to follow, you follow them and you have no problems. Pay your rent on time, don’t irritate your neighbors with noise or drugs and you’re good. I have no problems with the Property Manager, Resident Manager or my neighbors.
    I read all the negative comments before I moved in and figured it was just peeps who couldn’t comprehend, following the rules. Or those booted out for not paying their rent.
    Housing is ridiculously high and hard to find, so I’m not doing anything to risk my son and I getting kicked out.

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