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98 year old evicted: Mary Phillips fights to stay in her home of 50 years

A 98-year-old woman evicted from her home of 50 years is not leaving without a fight. Mary Phillips moved into her apartment on Dolores Street in San Francisco 50 years ago, and one real estate company kicked this woman out of her home. They are trying to at least. The company served Mary with an eviction notice in April 2013. Think Progress reported on Mary's story on July 10.

Mary Phillips is not leaving her home of 50 years without fighting for it first.
Photo by Mesa Top News Examiner: Video screen cap

Mary Phillips may be 98, but she is not willing to give in to the big developer without a fight. She has help too. With an attorney and a local community group fighting to save Mary's home for her, she is taking on big city corporate in this battle. Who is trying to kick her out? Urban Green Investments bought the property in 2012 for $2.5 million dollars. Another company had bought the property the year before for half that amount. It took less than a year for UGI to decide they wanted to sell the property for their own quick profit, and the law is on their side.

In 1986, the Ellis Act took effect. That law allows landlords to evict tenants from their property when they are looking to get out of the rental business. UGI used the Ellis Act here to evict Mary from her home. The elderly woman has nowhere else to go. She wants to remain in her home. She said the following to a local San Francisco news station about her eviction:

"I didn't sit down and cry, I just refused to believe it. They're going to have to take me out of here feet first. Just because of your age, don't let people push you around."

Mary is one tough old woman, but she cannot take on UGI all by herself. The company managed to kick out her neighbor and caretaker already. The residents of the Dolores Street property, including Mary Phillips, might be fighting a losing battle. UGI successfully used the Ellis Act 43 times in the last 10 years, the company ranks 19th on the list of "Dirty Thirty" compiled by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.

Mark Leno, a California state senator, did fight to change the Ellis Act after word of Mary's eviction spread in San Francisco. He tried to change the length of time a property owner had to own the property before it tried to sell it. He was looking to increase it to five years, but he had no luck in making the change. He tabled the attempt until next year. However, Mary's battle is happening now. Her attorney is in court to fight the law and UGI.

VanishingSF joined in the battle against Urban Green with Mary. The community organization protested outside of the company on Wednesday, and they posted the name and number of the UGI CEO right on their Facebook. They urged others to join them in the battle to save Mary's home. She has lived in the same apartment for 50 years. Not once has she ever been late with her rent. She is a good tenant, and she wants to spend her remaining days in the only place she has called home for half a century.

Will she win her battle? With people around the world now knowing her story, it is a matter of waiting out the court case. Mary hopes that UGI will not force her out of her home, but the company is not backing down it seems. What do you think of this case? Do you support Mary Phillips and her desire to stay in her home? Alternatively, do you support UGI's right to sell the property?