10.01.2009

The Exploitation of the Elderly

by Deric Muhammad

Ms. Mary is one of the sweetest elderly ladies you could ever meet. She has lived in her fragile home in the Houston Heights neighborhood for over 50 years. She never leaves home without her black suitcase which she rolls on its squeaky wheels whenever she leaves her humble home. She takes it to the grocery store, post office and everywhere else she goes. Most of the young jet-setters in her neighborhood think she is strange.

To the contrary Ms. Mary is smart. She is so smart that she has held on to her land to the chagrin of developers who have built swanky $300,000 three story condos around her. She knows that her balcony, despite its rotting wood, provides the Heights’ most beautiful view of the downtown Houston skyline. It is a view that holds many memories for her, but means millions of dollars to those developers.

Ms. Mary says that she’s been harassed for at least a decade about her property. Lawyers, realtors and builders have tried to buy her property at less than half its true value. She says they’ve vandalized her home and done all kinds of ugly things to strike enough fear in her to sell low so they can profit big. The black suitcase that she carries is filled with important paperwork; tax receipts, property deeds and court documents that prove that she is the sole owner of her properties. She fears that if she leaves her documents at home, “they” will break into her home again and steal the only proof that she has that her property belongs to her.

If you think the Ms. Mary is overreacting, you should travel across town to southeast Houston to visit Ms. Johnson. She is the elderly lady who earlier this summer sent her son to landscape one of the many lots she owns in Sunnyside and got a huge surprise. Her son returned and told her he could not cut the grass. When asked why, he calmly revealed that someone had illegally built a brand new home on the property and there was a “for sale” sign in the yard.

Read the full blog at: The Exploitation of the Elderly