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‘A huge weight has been lifted:’ Woman advocates for sister in hospice care after threat of eviction

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 4:30 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:34 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A Henrico woman says she is relieved and feels a weight has been lifted after spending weeks worrying that her sister, who is in hospice care, would be evicted.

“She went home, and she hasn’t gotten out of bed since she got out of the hospital; she was admitted to hospice. Her prognosis is pretty poor,” Crystal Sarvay described her sister, Linda Johnson. “When she was discharged from the hospital they had to carry her ten steps to get into her apartment. She is too weak; she is really sick and getting sicker.”

Sarvay’s older sister Linda Johnson was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, which attacks her body. Sarvay says her sister is in pain, requiring several medications and constant care. Johnson was recently admitted to in-home hospice care.

Sarvay called 12 on your side after her sister feared she would be evicted while in hospice care.
Sarvay called 12 on your side after her sister feared she would be evicted while in hospice care.(Crystal Sarvay)

“I have been a hospice nurse before, you really have to have someone be there for them to give them emotional care, as well as the physical care,” she said.

The constant care is why Johnson’s ex-husband moved into her unit at the Woodman West Apartment to be her round the clock care taker.

“I think it is hard for him to see her like this, and it is hard for him to accept how sick she is. They were close anyway even though they were divorced, they were still close,” said Sarvay. “He calls me a lot; he leans on me a lot to guide him and help him. I am happy to help to do that.”

In early October, he reached out to Sarvay distressed, after a notice of non compliance showed up at Johnson’s front door.

“The apartment place found out he was there taking care of her, and she is the only person who is supposed to be on the lease, so they decided to evict her,” she explained.

Woodman West management wrote a non-compliance notice to Johnson saying she had violated the terms of her rental agreement by having an unauthorized person in her unit. According to the rental agreement, management has to approve an additional person moving into the apartment. Woodman West’s agreement also says someone new moving in must apply, meet all community selection criteria and supply documents for eligibility.

Johnson was given 21 days to comply, and if she did not comply, it would result in her lease agreement being terminated.

Sarvay says the family did not think Johnson’s ex-husband should have to be added to the lease, because he is only staying there in a care taker role.

The notice also stated:

“Guests are not permitted to stay with a resident in the apartment for more that (1) continuous week or a total of (14) days per year. Residents are not permitted to have two overnight guests stay in their apartment at the same time. Management may allow for extenuating circumstances. Residents must request in writing, for managements approval to allow guest to stay in addition to these established days and/or number of guests.”

A Henrico woman calls 12 on your side - worried that her terminally ill sister would be evicted...
A Henrico woman calls 12 on your side - worried that her terminally ill sister would be evicted from her apartment.(Crystal Sarvay)

“Since she has been there so long and she is paying her rent, why, why is that so necessary right now? She may not even be here that much longer,” said Sarvay. “She gets an amount of money every month, it is not much, and they take her rent directly out of it.”

Sarvay says her sisters ex-husband tried to speak to Woodman West management by going to the rental office.

“They didn’t care, they wouldn’t add him to the lease, they said ‘she broke her lease, she needed to get out,” said Sarvay.

While the family was worried they would run out of time, Sarvay reached out to several housing agencies for support before finding a solution. The NBC12 Investigators wrote in e-mail to Woodman West asking if Johnson’s diagnosis would qualify as an extenuating circumstance.

TRG Management responded within 24 hours writing:

“In response to your inquiry below, this situation has been remedied. The site staff and family have been able to get the paperwork required and we have cancelled the termination notice.”

After learning that the termination notice had been canceled, it brought relief to Sarvay, her sister and her sister’s ex-husband.

“They actually presented her care giver with a form, saying he could stay and be her caregiver, they were very nice to him. The management was a totally different turn around before, she is very grateful,” said Sarvay. “A huge weight has been lifted in that respect; she is still sick, she is still in hospice care, she still has cancer, but we don’t have to worry about where she is going to be now; she has a home.”

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