For Raymond "Ted" Dixon, April has been a cruel month.
Shortly after he cashed his $422 Social Security check earlier this month, Mr. Dixon was attacked and robbed as he rolled home in his wheelchair. Without the money, he was unable to pay the April rent on his Southwest Baltimore apartment.
Tomorrow, unless he can come up with $387 for the rent, late penalty and court costs, Mr. Dixon, a paraplegic for 19 years, will be evicted from the apartment in the 1000 block of Wilmington Ave. His landlord said he will accept the total amount he is owed, nothing less.
"That was the whole thing, rent, gas and electric," said the 37-year-old Mr. Dixon, who was paralyzed at age 18 after being shot during a family dispute. Two years later, an infection set in and both legs were amputated.
He lives off the Supplemental Security Income check from Social Security and food stamps. "And I've got to make that stretch until the next first," he said. "I've done what I could to get him the money."
But he will not receive his next check in time to stop his eviction. Social Security cannot help him because he cashed the check. And he would have qualified for a state emergency grant, but the program was discontinued on April 1 due to budget cuts. So Mr. Dixon faces the prospect of losing his apartment.
James Barghorn, his landlord, said he is asking from Mr. Dixon only what he expects from all his tenants.
"I'm sorry it happened to him, but I can't do anything about that," Mr. Barghorn said. "I have my own problems. The only thing I want from Mr. Dixon, per the lease agreement, is the rent."
Mr. Barghorn said that Mr. Dixon has been continually late with his rent payment.
"Every month he's late," Mr. Barghorn said. "The rent's due on the first and he's always late."
Mr. Dixon disputes that contention, insisting he has paid promptly and has never missed a month since he moved in last July.
Eviction proceedings were started against Mr. Dixon within the first two weeks of the month and a court date was set for April 14.
Mr. Dixon missed the hearing, he said, because his grandmother died on that day.
The court ruled in favor of Mr. Barghorn and ordered Mr. Dixon to pay his $325 rent, along with a $25 late fee and $37 in court costs.
Last Thursday, Mr. Dixon offered to pay his landlord $200 that his mother scraped together and promised the rest when his May check came. Mr. Barghorn refused to accept the partial payment.
"If I let him go until the first, he's going to pay either May or April. He's not going to pay both," Mr. Barghorn said.
"Because he's on a fixed income, he can never make up the back rent. . . . He barely makes enough money to pay the rent and pay for his food, so it's impossible for him to make up the rent. And yet, he tells me he's going to take care of it."
Mr. Barghorn said he has been reasonable with Mr. Dixon.
"I've been very nice compared to some of the things he's said to me over the phone and to my face. That I'm rich, what's one month's rent for me, to let him stay there one month without paying," Mr. Barghorn said.
Mr. Dixon said he thinks he can come up with the money with his mother's help. But he will not have it in hand until after tomorrow. So he expects to be evicted.
"I've taken everything off the wall I can reach," he said. "I figure if I have to, I'll just roll the roads."