A move to evict five single mothers from Charleston's Gadsden Green public housing because of armed robbery charges filed against their teenaged children won't be made until after Christmas, the head of the Charleston Housing Authority said Monday.
Chief Executive Officer Don Cameron said the authority will wait until after the holidays to pursue the evictions, which have to be secured in a local magistrate's court.
An attorney for the women said he was pleased by the delay but still plans to fight attempts to throw the women out. "At least they showed some warmth" to respect Christmas, attorney John "Skip" Martin said of the decision.
Four of the women received eviction notices Saturday. The letters say they violated their leases to live in Charleston public housing by allowing members of their households to engage in "violent or drug-related criminal activity on or off the premises."
In October, six of the women's children, juveniles aged 14 to 16, were arrested on armed robbery charges for allegedly confronting two people in separate incidents near the College of Charleston. One of the victims was shot in the hand with a pellet gun. If the women lose their fight, they and as many as 25 of their children could find themselves out on the street. The Housing Authority says it has a "zero-tolerence" position on such crimes.
In her notification letter, Housing Authority hearing officer Romona Gourdine called it a "play on words" that the women's lawyers said they did not violate the lease because they did not condone or actually "permit" their children to engage in criminal behavior.
"The fact is that there was a violation of the lease and the Housing Authority provided the evidence needed to support their decision to terminate your dwelling lease agreement," Gourdine wrote.
Even if the children are found not guilty of the crimes, Cameron said the authority has the power to evict anyone based on an allegation that is strong enough to warrant a police report or an arrest.
If the teens are found not guilty, the families can reapply for admission, Cameron said. Proven cooperation with police is another factor that can be evaluated on whether to allow a family back, he said.
Martin wants to consolidate all five women's cases into one because the legal issues are the same.