Tenants accused of not social distancing face eviction from Ala. senior living facility

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI/CNN) - Eight tenants at an Alabama senior living facility are facing eviction over claims they have not been social distancing or following health safety guidelines put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keith LaBeaud says he's now living with the fear of losing his Central Plaza Towers apartment in Mobile, Alabama, and being homeless in the middle of a pandemic. He and several other tenants say they have done nothing wrong and that the Mobile Housing Board is threatening to kick them out under false pretenses.

"We don't need to be harassed. We already scared as it is now. And now you're talking about putting me out on the streets?" he said.

According to an eviction notice, LaBeaud says he has until June 14 before he’s kicked out for “unacceptable conduct and behavior, including failing to shelter-in-place, practice social distancing or other safe practice guidelines.”

LaBeaud says he and his neighbors do gather outside but don’t break the rules.

"I've never been warned. I've never been written up. She's never talked to me about the situation," he said.

Maurice Cunningham, one of LeBeaud’s neighbors, says he also received eviction papers without warning.

"Where are they going to go? Can't just jump out one place and go to another one. This ain't back in the day. Can't do that like you used to," he said.

Three Mobile city council members wrote a letter Tuesday to Michael Pierce, the executive director of the Mobile Housing Board, asking him to reconsider the evictions.

"It is very troubling that some of our residents – especially some of the most vulnerable – could be evicted during this crisis,” read the letter in part.

Pierce responded by saying the tenants who received eviction notices have “repeatedly refused to comply” with COVID-19 safety measures and that they must “correct their behavior and do their part.”

According to Pierce, six residents at the apartment complex, which is largely inhabited by “the elderly with underlying medical conditions,” have tested positive for COVID-19, and three have died.

“We can’t just allow people to do what they want in this type of environment. When the outcome happens, people are going to come back to us and say, ‘Why didn’t you do more?’” Pierce said.

Rene Savelle, vice president of the residents association, says of the tenants who received eviction notices, the ones she knows have been following social distancing guidelines.

"We're not stupid. This is a serious virus, and to think that we may be evicted from our homes during this crisis is overwhelming for all of us," she said.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating the situation.

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