Leisure World tenant faces homelessless after eviction

With the help of an assistance program and a generous landlord, James Brown has been at Leisure World for four years. But now he faces eviction.

An elderly man who rents an apartment in Montgomery Center says he's never had any problems until now.

The Montgomery Mutual co-op inside Leisure World in Silver Spring says renters can only stay for three years. One man was allowed to stay for an extra year, but now the co-op board has decided rules are rules, which means he has to go even if he has nowhere to go to.

“Life is good here,” says James Brown, 78. “I get along with anybody.”

Brown loves his two-bedroom home at Leisure World.{ } For him, it was something akin to a miracle.

“I just went homeless,” he says. “I went homeless for about two years.”

With the help of an assistance program and a generous landlord, Brown has been at Leisure World for four years. His home is immaculate. Nearly all the furniture was given to him by other residents at Leisure World, but because the co-op limits renters to three years, Brown has to be out at the end of the month.

“If I don’t find another place, this is all going out to the trash,” he says. “I’ll pay someone to help me set it out and I’ll just go back on the street.”

“I don’t know how he would find something else,” says Fern Barrueta. “On top of that, he’s 78 years old. Putting him through this stress, why would anyone want to do that?””

Barrueta bought the unit for his mother over 10 years ago. He says Brown has never been a problem and is well-liked by neighbors. The co-op board denied Barreuta’s request to let Brown stay. The property manager even sent a letter threatening legal action.

“The Board of Directors has been extremely fair,” property manager Steve Wischmann says. “This gentleman has been allowed to sublet here for over three years. The Board of Directors has been overly-accommodating for him.”

The co-op board declined to meet with ABC7 Wednesday, though the former board president says they are following the rules and it's their right to evict Brown.