The fight for a mother of five to remain in her Valencia Gardens home was revived Wednesday as The John Stewart Company, the property’s manager, signaled its willingness to challenge a judge’s decision last month that granted the family a reprieve from eviction.
The “notice of appeal” filed Wednesday by the property management company will give it room to pursue further legal action against Shantel McClendon, who has been living at the public housing complex on Valencia and 15th streets for 15 years.
The John Stewart Company had been attempting to evict McClendon and her five children from their Valencia Gardens home since April. The management company’s grounds for eviction has most recently stemmed from concerns around the father of three of McClendon’s children staying at the apartment, in violation of her lease.
Yet, by the time the eviction proceedings began in July, that man, Rasheed Loveless, was no longer living in the apartment, as he had begun a two-year sentence in state prison. A judge on Sep. 23 entered a final decision, stating that The John Stewart Company had acted dishonestly on four separate occasions in its attempts to evict McClendon.
Less than a month later, The John Stewart Company is not giving up.
“We are trying very hard to work things out with Ms. McClendon and her family in a way that does not result in her having to leave the property,” Jack Gardner, the president of the John Stewart Company, said on Thursday. “But the prior ruling left many substantive issues unresolved that we cannot turn a blind eye to.”
Gardner did not specify what those “substantive issues” were, saying only that he wants McClendon to “come into compliance with her lease.” The notice filed Wednesday does not outline legal arguments.
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“The notice of appeal we’ve filed is to preserve our options while trying to find an amicable resolution — and not require her family to leave the property,” he added, insisting it’s not necessarily a harbinger of further litigation.
However, he said, “It is my sincere hope that we can find an alternative to eviction — but we will pursue our right to a jury trial if that only becomes absolutely necessary.”
It may not be necessary. McClendon, who learned of the filing from Mission Local, said she’s actively trying to move out of Valencia Gardens. “I don’t feel safe there,” she said. “I feel like they’re harassing me now.”
“I got the decision from the judge and you guys are still trying,” she said, directing her comments to the management company. “You guys are crazy to me.”
Her attorney, Ryan Murphy, a lawyer with the Eviction Defense Collaborative, echoed McClendon, saying that the single mother has already had her day in court and won. “But still, The John Stewart Company will not give Ms. McClendon housing stability and peace of mind,” he wrote in an email. “Instead of just apologizing and moving on, their decision to appeal means that The John Stewart Company wants to keep Ms. McClendon and her children under the threat of eviction for at least the next several months pending a decision on appeal.”
Added McLendon: “I already have five kids to take care of. I’ve been fighting for three years to get this decision — and I still didn’t win anything.”