Louisville Magazine

JUL 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 7.18 73 next week to vacate so we can have money to do everything. I don't know if you have kids. If you could do it for him," Dixon says, gesturing to Micah. Williams: "Why isn't he in school?" Dixon: "He's my support. He'll be there in two minutes. He's 17. He's allowed." Dixon is particularly close with Micah. Both are talkative and sincere. He offered to come, even helping her choose her outfit. e lawyer, Michael Calilung, listens to Dixon with his mouth zipped in a straight line. He couldn't keep doing the work if he internalized each struggle. When children are involved in an eviction, he leans on this logic: "Between the landlord and the parents, who should really be concerned about keeping a roof over that child's head?" Calilung: "We are asking for the judgment." Dixon whimpers. "But it's going to be on my record," she says. She worked at the apartment complex she's being evicted from for five years. What if her friends and former coworkers see her being set-out? "It's baloney. I've put my sweat and tears" — she trails off, sobbing. Williams: "I'm certainly sympathetic to your situation. I am. It's just not up to the court's discretion. You all had an agreement. If I could do something, I would. But I can't. My hands are tied. So I'm going to grant the judgment. I wish you the best." "Sheriff's office!" A fist pounds the door — bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. A set-out begins. Monday through Friday, one eviction per hour, starting around 8:30 in the morning and ending in the early afternoon. e only downtime comes around anksgiving and Christmas, a courtesy to families. Deputies get swamped in January. Warmer months can prove hectic too, as some landlords like to sweep out unreliable tenants and secure better ones before winter descends and LG&E bills balloon. Every day at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., a clerk from the sheriff's office walks across the street to the Hall of Justice, toting back a pile of papers to the fifth floor of the sheriff's office, where a woman in a pink cubicle bundles the warrants of possession and schedules set-outs for a specific day and time, stamping it on the warrant in red — the "scare date," deputies call it. Deputies usually don't show up until at least a few days past the scare date. Often, renters have vacated by then, leaving evidence of a life interrupted — clothes, shoes, half-full liters of soda, crusty kitchen pots, a funeral program, coupons, loose tobacco cascading from coffee table to carpet. Deputies have found a boa constrictor and a pot-bellied pig. ey must confiscate any weapons, pornography or drugs. e smell in abandoned rentals can overwhelm — garbage and old kitty litter are a stale, potent duo. No one is supposed to open the fridge, especially in the summertime. At public-housing complexes, deputies in brown and tan uniforms complete set-outs one after another, back to back to back, up to a dozen at one site. Louisville Metro Housing Authority owns and manages nearly 3,600 public-housing units. According to the Louisville Apartment Association, LMHA is Louisville's largest landlord. ey're also a frequent evictor. Occasionally LMHA will evict for as low as $25 in owed rent. But that $25 may represent five months of unpaid $5 rent and a failure to put even a few bucks toward the debt. Because LMHA is the housing of last resort for many, LMHA says if a tenant is evicted due to nonpayment or lease violation, it's not a scarlet letter. ey can reapply. is spring, Katina Powell, the infamous escort whose book Breaking Cardinal Rules shattered the University of Louisville's basketball program, makes an appearance in eviction court for a lease violation: Her daughter had reportedly pulled a .38-caliber handgun on a man who was near the LMHA property where they lived. On that same day, Lynda Graham, the mother of addeus omas, one of four teens accused of robbing and murdering a man in Cherokee Triangle last November, is evicted from the Parkway Place housing projects. omas wasn't supposed to be living with her at Parkway due to several run-ins with police, and LMHA had evidence that Graham's apartment was omas's main residence at the time of his arrest on murder charges last fall. Upon being evicted, Graham crumples on a bench outside the courtroom, crying. "It's too much," she says, pounding a fist into her palm. ree of her other children and an infant granddaughter live with her. "is isn't a happy day for anyone," Graham's Legal Aid attorney says to her, promising to try and get her extra time to move before a set-out is on the books. If tenants are home when deputies pull up, evictions still usually go smoothly. But not always. On a gray, cold February morning, a stinging, wet air speckles ice on branches, steps, sidewalks, everything. Deputy Jon Pfeifer, who has spent much of his 18 years with the sheriff's office working on evictions, arrives at Autumn Lake Pointe trailer park in Valley Station, figuring the set- out might be contentious. e man, Richard Eckhart, owns the trailer. He has been out of work for a while, has struggled to come up with the lot fee. He claims the trailer park owes him $900 for some maintenance jobs he had completed on-site. (It's common for tenants to work off rent they owe, but without a written agreement, any deal carries little weight in court. A spokeswoman for SSK Communities, the owner of Autum Lake Pointe, says Eckhart is not owed any money and stresses that evictions are a "last resort" for tenants far behind on payment.) Eckhart explodes when Pfeifer knocks on the door. Angry and flustered, he speeds off in his Chevy pickup. "I guess he didn't think it was gonna happen," Pfeifer says. "But it's not like he didn't pay one month. He hasn't paid (the lot fee) in a while." Eckhart returns about 30 minutes later, his truck lurching and screeching to a stop in front of his trailer. When he sees his belongings — a cuckoo clock he got while working as a contractor for the military, a new front-load washer and dryer, a four-post bed — outside in a mound, he boils. "is is fucking wrong!" he shouts. "ey shouldn't be able to go in there and look at all my shit! is trailer does not belong to them!" Carolyn Carter, deputy director at the National Consumer Law Center, says trailer parks are thorny terrain when it comes to evictions because, like Eckhart, the people being set-out often own their home. And it's relatively common, Carter says, for trailer parks to obtain the titles to trailers that have been left behind due to eviction and then lease them out. "e underlying fundamental imbalance is that, while it's a horrible thing for an apartment tenant to be evicted, they can move most of their personal property, while a manufactured-home community Continued on page 100 Garbage bags flap open, clothes and high heels are tossed in. A couch, then a bed, get carried out. A framed Marilyn Monroe print travels outdoors. Drawers are thrown from a dresser onto the floor.

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