Last month, the Mercury News wrote about our father—92-year-old WWII veteran Paul Mayer—who was on the brink of eviction. Since that story by reporter Ramona Giwargis came out, we managed to postpone his eviction to July 1. But the attorney mediating his case has refused to keep him there any longer, despite the fact that the landlord, Peggy DiMaio, failed to file the required five-day eviction notice with the city of San Jose.
Despite the hardship our father has faced this past month, we have much to be grateful for. Our family has experienced an outpouring of kindness, compassion and generosity from strangers—not only locally, but from around the country. It was refreshing and inspiring to feel the hands of compassion reaching out to help our father and to know that there is still goodness in this world, despite this deplorable situation. Our father was overwhelmed with emotion as we read to him the many comments and emails forwarded to us. For that, we are grateful.
It was never our intent, when we shared our father’s story, to ask for or accept donations or any other gifts. Our dad will be well taken care of by his children, who also respect his strong desire to remain independent. Never mind the suggestion to the contrary by the DeMaio family, which threw out harsh words accusing my family of a lack of concern for our father’s well-being.
A recent editorial written by the Mercury News, “No law can help Paul Mayer, 92—but people can,” states that there is no law in place that can help our dad. While that is true right now, it doesn’t mean that we complacently accept this situation. We certainly do not. Our hope is that no other elderly person has to experience the sadness and disruption that our elderly father faces with his eviction. We are actively supporting a change to the current eviction law, which allows landlords to kick tenants out without any stated reason. What we need in San Jose is a “just cause” protection, which would prevent landlords form ousting renters unless they had good reason to do so.
We recently learned that the true motivation for Peggy DeMaio and her son, Anthony DeMaio, to evict our father was indisputable greed. Their cry for the need for “renovating the units” is hogwash. If renovating the units was a priority as a unit becomes available, they could have just moved him into a vacant unit and renovated the older unit as was done 25 years ago in our father’s building by the previous owner.
The truth is, they are evicting long term, lower paying tenants in rent controlled properties so that the DeMaio’s can then fill those very same vacancies with tenants who have subsidized housing vouchers—a guaranteed paycheck. Why? Because Section 8 tenants are exempt from rent control because they receive federal subsidies. That means the DeMaio’s can line their pockets with the higher rent, completely bypass current rent control protections and pocket additional bonuses from the VA.
Early on, before the mediation and before their scam was revealed, we reached out to the DeMaio’s to ask if our father could at least live out whatever time he has left in his unit. We even offered to pay market value rent to keep him there. We were denied.
But Peggy DeMaio seemed to take great pride in recently stating that what she was doing was for the good of the veterans she was housing. But in fact, she is evicting a 92-year-old veteran to fill the vacancy with another veteran who pays market rate with a subsidized voucher as part of program to house homeless vets. It’s hard to digest that our federal tax dollars helped to evict our dad, along with the other tenants, in order to fulfill the greed of the DeMaio’s.
It’s time to take action and demand just cause eviction laws to prevent this outrageous abuse of the law from happening again. If just cause evictions had been required already, this abuse would never have been allowed to happen.
During a face-to-face meeting, Councilman Chappie Jones said that he needs “more data” before deciding whether or not San Jose should adopt just cause protections. But the City Council doesn’t need “more data” to know that this is the right thing to do.
All the affidavits and paperwork that the city requires the landlords to fill out has proven ineffective. The city has created a major debacle that’s staring you straight in the face. For the council members to turn their heads to this outrageous and blatant abuse is intolerable. It’s time to take action.
To Mayor Sam Liccardo, we say this: You recently said on the news that “we are a city united in tackling difficult issues.” This blatant abuse of the law and the enormous disruptions it causes to innocent, vulnerable citizens of your city is not only a “difficult issue” but should also be a “priority issue.”
There is an upcoming vote on just cause evictions taking place on April 18. We are looking to you, Mr. Mayor, and you, city council members, to do the right thing and stop this outrageous abuse by voting in favor of just cause eviction. With your help, we can put an end to the VA voucher scam.
Robert Mayer and Anne Sherman