12 ON YOUR SIDE: Rooming house eviction concern

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Evictions happen every day, but few as muddled as this. Mentally and physically disabled people being evicted, and here's the catch - they say they paid their rent, but the landlord didn't get paid.

At the rental house we found filthy conditions and disabled people living without adequate help. We talked with the 80- year-old property owner and her daughter by phone. They say they rented the house to one person, Hester Hall, and she turned it into a rooming house without them knowing. We also talked with Hall. She says the owners knew from day one that supportive housing is her business.

When NBC12 walked up to the Second Avenue home and inside...no questions were asked.

"They're mentally retarded. Me and him are disabled in a wheelchair. The other ones are upstairs. You know they're shy. They're like children," said resident Denise Byrum.

She's one of seven people living here since September. Denise called 12 in a panic seeking help. The court ordered eviction is June 17th.

"I'm not trying to be homeless. I need some help," she said.

The property owners declined to talk on camera but say they want their house back. They say they found out about the additional people when they posted a pay or quit notice after Hester Hall stopped paying.

While we waited for Hall to meet us, the people facing eviction told us the landlord charges Hall $850 a month. They pay Hall between four and five hundred dollars each.

We found three mattresses on the floor in one room upstairs. Residents are unhappy with what they're getting.

They were promised three meals a day but when you look in the refrigerator, there's not much there. Hall believes some residents sold the food.

Darell has been with Hall's supportive housing program five years and says she has a good heart.

"She's trying to do the best she can but apparently she's over doing it in a wrong way," Darell said.

When Hall arrived she would not appear on camera but addressed every issue. The property owner's last name is McGuire.

Diane: "McGuire claims you didn't pay rent?"
Hall: "I'm not going to give her nothing. You see the situation upstairs."

She also says not everyone pays on time and the property owner was aware.

"Diane, she knew. She said 'what do you want the house for?' I said 'supportive housing,'" Hall explained.

Hall admits she took on more people than guidelines allow but says she's making changes and no one will be homeless.

Diane: "They're not going to be homeless?"
Hall: "Hell no. They're going to be out of here this Wednesday."

Hall invited us back to see them move into a new home Wednesday. This time she says her clients will be on the lease and there will be an onsite manager. Richmond code enforcement and zoning do not have any tenant issues with this property.