by Lynda Carson
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t 92 years of age, Katherine Smith is a frail, elderly woman who lives alone in North Oakland, in a house that currently does not have any hot water. She is struggling against an eviction by Robert Rasheed, a wealthy Danville man who is trying to evict her from her longtime home, and force her onto the cold, mean streets of Oakland.
Katherine Smith’s eviction case goes to trial in a few weeks, and she is being defended by the Eviction Defense Center of Oakland. According to the Eviction Defense Center, Smith was threatened with eviction by Rasheed after he accused her of having a caregiver, an unauthorized occupant of her home.
Rasheed has hired Thomas Matthews, an attorney with the Danville law firm of Merrill, Nomura & Molineux, to evict Smith from her home.
In an interview, Smith said, “I am 92 years old, and have lived around here for nearly 50 years, but life is hard for me now ever since my husband passed away, and the house went into foreclosure. The house was bought by Robert Rasheed and his company Dover Investments, LLC.”
After Rasheed’s company bought the home, her living conditions have gone from bad to worse, according to Smith.
She said, “Since Rasheed has taken over, often there is no hot water any more. There was a period that there was no hot water for around six whole months, and now Rasheed wants to charge me to light the pilot light for the hot water heater, every time it goes out. I live in the bottom half of the house, and Rasheed has some students living above me now. I only have Social Security to live on, and cannot possibly afford to pay Rasheed to light the pilot light every time it goes out, so that I can have hot water again.”
She charged Rasheed with deliberately making conditions intolerable in an attempt to drive her out of her home.
“Rasheed wants to evict me, and he is making life very hard for me,” Smith said. “This is the second time that he is trying to evict me, and now I am so worried that I can barely sleep at night any more.
“Already he has destroyed my garden, and removed a lot of my stuff from the garage that I need. At least my health is still good though I am a bit crippled, and thankfully my grandson stops by to help me out. But Rasheed keeps asking me if my grandson stays here, and Rasheed keeps telling me that no one can stay with me to help me out as my caregiver.”
According to Smith, the landlord is using her own age and frailty against her by cruelly seizing upon the elderly woman’s need for a caregiver as an excuse to evict her.
“Now that I am 92, Rasheed knows that I need help to survive, and he keeps trying to make life very hard on me,” said the frightened, elderly woman. “I never believed that I would ever get this old. I do not want to be evicted, and I am very worried. I want to remain where I am at.”
According to public records, Smith’s home at 993 54th Street in Oakland was sold at a foreclosure auction for $257,400 on Dec. 1, 2010. Its assessed value was listed at $374,500. SF.Blockshopper lists Dover Investment, LLC, as the new owner.
During an interview on Oct. 29, 2011, Robert Rasheed of Dover Investments in Danville denied ever knowing a Katherine Smith at 993 54th Street in Oakland. He said he did not know what I was talking about when I asked him directly why he was evicting the frail, elderly, frightened woman from her longtime home.
Suddenly, in a state of evident panic, Rasheed completely changed his story and said, “We are not evicting her. I would not evict an old woman from her home. We are just trying to get a resolution. I think that you are harassing me. Please do not ever call me at my home again.”
Rochelle Owens of Oakland is the granddaughter of Katherine Smith. She said, “Grandma was supposed to live in that house until she died, according to the wishes of her husband when he passed away. The house ended up with grandma’s stepson after her husband passed away, and it was her grandson who lost the house in foreclosure, but grandma is still entitled to remain in the house.”
Owens described the inhumanity of the landlord in deliberately making living conditions intolerable for her 92-year-old grandmother in a heartless attempt to break the elderly woman’s spirit and force her to vacate her home.
Owens said, “Robert Rasheed of Dover Investments has been harassing my grandma ever since he bought the property, and this is the second time that he is trying to evict her. My grandma is very weak, very old, and can barely walk now.
“This is cruel. They threw out much of her stuff, destroyed her garden, and have been depriving her of hot water, as a way to force her out of her home. My grandma wants to stay at home, and needs her own space to stay in.”
Smith’s eviction case goes to trial in a few weeks. She is being defended by the Eviction Defense Center of Oakland.
Rochelle Owens may be reached at 510-692-5775. The Eviction Defense Center may be reached at 510-452-4541.
Robert Rasheed may be reached at 925-383-4567. Rasheed’s attorney Thomas Matthews may be reached at 925-833-1000.
Lynda Carson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org