Widow, 78, gets order to leave home

Housing inspector finds problems with roof, flooring, wiring, heat

November 24, 1999|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Marguerite Greaver's three-story rowhouse in the 1800 block of W. Pratt St. lacks heat, has faulty wiring and a hole in a first-floor wall. Just a few minor problems, she says.

Major problems, says the city. So officials have given Greaver, 78, until Tuesday to fix up the place or move out. They know she suffers from cancer and has little money.

The officials are trying to help her relocate.

Greaver, who is a widow, doesn't want to move from the house where she has lived since 1970, and which she says is paid for.

"They had me to sign some papers for a high-rise or something," Greaver said yesterday as she went through a Thanksgiving box of food donated by the Salvation Army. "I am not leaving. No, I'm not. I want to stay in my own house because I've got stuff here I want to go through."

City officials said Greaver is living in substandard housing, and they're only trying to help.

The notice to vacate was not placed on her door until three days after it was signed, said John Milton Wesley, a spokesman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

And, he said, though Greaver is supposed to move out by Monday, she has until Tuesday.

"I think they took into consideration her age and her situation," Wesley said.

He said housing officials and Adult Protective Services are trying to find a suitable home for Greaver should she be displaced. He said an application for her to move into senior housing is being processed.

"I believe that given the availability of space in our senior centers, adequate space can be found for her," Wesley said. "Now, the question is whether or not she will accept the first place [where] an application is accepted for her. We don't know. That can have an impact on whether or not she's going to be in by the 30th."

Greaver is adamant about not wanting to move.

Anger resonated yesterday as she talked about city officials' efforts to move her from the house.

A notice placed on the house from Housing Inspector Larry Bailey listed several violations that must be corrected before the house is deemed habitable.

His notice said the flooring, roof, wiring and fire wall are defective. It also said the dwelling lacks hot water and heat.

The roof is sagging, and a hole in a first-floor wall was caused by vandals attempting to break into a liquor store next to Greaver's home.

Greaver once ran a store out of her home, which is cluttered with everything from crocheted baby clothes to men's ties to wedding dresses to lamps, items she never sold.

Despite lacking heat -- she said she owes Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. $2,000 -- she keeps her front door open, she said, so she can feed pigeons and see what's going on outside.

The woman, who said she suffers from kidney cancer and other ailments, said she has four grown children who live in North Carolina, North Dakota, Florida and West Virginia, but no family in Baltimore. None of her children is expected for the holiday.

She said she is worried about what will happen to her possession if she moves.

Wesley said city officials hope her children will help her.

"She has a lot of things that are very valuable to her in the property," he said. "She's concerned about vandalism. She's concerned about what will happen to her stuff. We are hoping that her family will assist her in protecting the stuff. We're hoping, also, that the community will assist her in protecting her belongings. She's a stable part of that community, an influence in that community."

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