Local and Community News
California City Rallies to Stop Family's Eviction
February 27, 2003
A West Hollywood couple who are adopting twin babies with HIV were greeted with twin eviction notices rather than a baby shower when they arrived home with the infants. "Each one of them got one," said Donna Burns of the "three-day notices to quit" that arrived in the mail last week for twins Kerri Ann and Steven Timothy. The landlord also posted an eviction notice on the Burns' apartment door. In a city where HIV/AIDS is a prominent issue, public outrage has triggered a firestorm.Adapted from:
Burns and her husband, Kerry -- who have both lost brothers to AIDS -- said they took in the twins to prevent their possible separation into different foster homes. The twins' presence was a violation of the lease on the one-bedroom apartment where the couple has lived for more than a year, according to the landlord.
Notified of the babies' plight by neighbors, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Steve Martin launched a campaign to stop the eviction. He argued that the couple was still in compliance with the city's rent-control ordinance, which allows tenants to move in a third party if they have a baby. The twins count as one baby, Martin, said.
Kerry Burns said that he and his wife realized early on that they would need a larger place for their new family. However, "the children's placement with us came sooner than we thought," he said. Both twins have spent time in the hospital since coming to the Burns' home, delaying the family's search for new quarters.
Last Friday, the landlord bowed to public pressure and rescinded the ouster order. After initially depicting Martin's efforts as politically motivated, building manager Karl Slovin agreed to give the family until the end of June to move. "The community really came through for us," Donna Burns said last Friday. "After what we've been through, we don't want to leave West Hollywood."
Los Angeles Times
02.22.03; Bob Pool