Amid Hard Times, a Single Mom Is Told to Get out of Apartment

By Burmeister, Caren | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Amid Hard Times, a Single Mom Is Told to Get out of Apartment


Burmeister, Caren, The Florida Times Union


Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

Lauren Bryant, who is 19 and raising a 9-month-old baby, doesn't know if she's coming or going.

On Monday, the young mother, who is making $50 a week selling plasma to the blood bank, was incorrectly told that she had 24 hours to move out of her rental home on Lewis Street in Atlantic Beach.

She and her baby girl, Kylah, had just moved into the home four weeks earlier with the help of Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, a nonprofit social services agency in Jacksonville Beach that paid to turn on the water and electricity.

After she was told the house had been condemned and that she had to get out or she would be arrested for trespassing, she searched classified ads and the Internet for another place to live. She went back to BEAM on Tuesday when her search turned up nothing affordable. The agency put Bryant and Kylah in a hotel room for a few days until workers could find her another home.

BEAM and Bryant considered the brick house, which has rotten wooden floors with holes in a few areas, as a place for Bryant to begin. Her mother told her in June that she and her baby could no longer live with her.

"I had to do what I had to do so we weren't on the streets," Bryant said Wednesday.

She invited a friend to live with her to share the $400 rent and to baby-sit her daughter while she searched for a job and arranged to get back on food stamps and other state assistance. Bryant knew about the bad floor but kept her baby with her in the back of the house, an addition to the house that's in better shape. Although she had lost her minimum-wage job at a Beaches fast-food restaurant and was having trouble finding another one, she tried to stay upbeat.

But the pieces began unraveling this week when her landlord ordered her and her roommate to move out of the apartment under the guise of a condemnation.

Bryant and her caseworker thought it was odd that she didn't receive a written notice and that no sign had been posted on the door. …

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