Arnold Schwarzenegger lends helping hand to 102-year-old woman facing eviction from California home: 'I'll be reaching out to help'
A 102-year-old woman faces the prospect of being evicted out of her California home by her landlord after nearly 30 years of her residence. According to CBS Los Angeles, the landlord plans to move his daughter into the apartment once she graduates from law school, triggering a housing problem for Thelma Smith.
While the plight of the elderly woman has led to offers of support from many quarters, now the Terminator himself has got her back.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who previously served as California's governor, took to Twitter on Friday to lend his support to Smith. The seven-time Mr. Olympia shared a Los Angeles Times article and wrote alongside: "Thelma has been a dear friend for a long time. Imagine doing this to a 102-year-old woman who gave back to the community her whole life. It is heartless."
According to the Associated Press, Smith is a retired secretary for the Sugar Ray Robinson Youth Foundation. Schwarzenegger, who knows Smith through his work with the charity, has vowed to do something about her situation.
"Thelma, I'll be reaching out to help. Landlords, you'll hear from me too," Schwarzenegger wrote in the tweet, following which a spokesman told AP his staff had already met with Smith to work on a solution.
Over the years, Smith has lost almost all her immediate family members, including her husband. The rest of her family is either far removed or lives on the East Coast.
Well-wishers of Smith have said her options are limited to moving into a retirement community or moving in with someone nearby. However, Smith lives on a fixed income and has until June 30 to leave the premises.
"She couldn't afford it; she would need some assistance from [the] county and other friends to support her in these places," said family friend Antonio Avelino. LA's rent control law offers relocation assistance for senior citizens as well as disabled people, per the Los Angeles Times.
But the problem is that Ladera Heights, where Smith resides, is an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County located just off city limits, and by extension, off its jurisdiction.
When CBS LA's Amy Johnson asked the landlord if he would "kick out a 102-year-old woman" from his apartment, he responded by saying, "Would you take care of your child?"
Los Angeles County is also investigating if the eviction notice violated any temporary render protections that were approved by the city's lawmakers last year. Spokesman Keven Chavez told the Los Angeles Times that evictions can be stopped or postponed if a landlord does not comply with the county's policies.
Nonetheless, an online fundraising drive has already raised nearly $4,000 for Smith's future. Meanwhile, her close friends are looking for other places in the area where she can move to.