Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Zero Tolerance run amok

This one is just beyond the pale. A 69-year-old woman may lose her government-subsidized studio apartment because of a federal policy punishing her for the actions of an uninvited guest.

Olive McKibben suffered severe back injuries resulting from an automobile accident nine years ago and her only income is the $800 she receives from Social Security. She's lived in her apartment at Marina Manor for about a year, having moved there to be closer to her family.

She took a two week trip out of town to visit another daughter and lost her home to our government's dunderheaded zero tolerance policies.

During the visit, she received a telephone call from an officer with the Marina Department of Public Safety informing her that her neighbors reported someone was in her apartment.

McKibben said she was shocked by the news and asked the officer to arrest the man.

It turned out the intruder was her home health aide, who agreed to come over and feed her pet and water her plants. He had taken up residence in her absence, without her permission and when police arrived they reportedly found the place in shambles and some undetermined amount of drugs belonging to the guy.

Under federal mandate, which apparently has no provisions for such extenuating circumstances, she will be tossed out on the street within a month.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that operators of public housing projects can legally evict families because of a family member's drug use. But McKibben said her home health-care worker was not a family member, not an invited guest and certainly not under her control.

Nonetheless, legal aid attorneys told her she should drop the matter and find another apartment.

This miscarriage of justice is what your government calls fighting the war on drugs. Looks to me like just another attack on the poor, disabled and otherwise disadvantaged members of our society and it's being underwritten with your tax dollars.



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