‘I Love This Old House': Pair of Elderly Women Fighting to Stay in Long-Time Burlingame Home

As rent prices continue to skyrocket across the Bay Area, two elderly women who have lived in the same Peninsula house for decades are now fighting to keep it.

Unfortunately, the duo’s plight is not unique.

An increasing number of people are getting priced of the local residential market and have no relief in sight, prompting Congresswoman Jackie Speier to attend a town hall meeting in San Mateo Monday to discuss rent control. Marie Hatch and Georgia Rotherock will be among the nearly 200 people who are expected to attend. 

Hatch, 97, has lived in the same Burlingame home for 63 years.

"We’ve had good times in this house," Hatch said. "I love this old house. Look at all this nice stuff!"

Her former landlord Vivian Cruz was a close friend who promised she could stay for the rest of her life, Hatch said. However, the new landlord – Cruz's distant relative – has served her with an eviction notice.

"She'd probably turn over in her grave if she knew what was going on," Hatch said.

The new landlord’s lawyer argues that he was not aware of a lifetime tenancy agreement. And Hatch has 60 days to move out.

"The landlord situation has gotten so greedy," said Hatch, a cancer survivor.

Meanwhile, Rotherock has rented the front room in the house for about 30 years.

"I go to the bus stop bench surrounded by my boxes of books and sit there," she said. 

Rotherock, who said that she can’t find affordable housing on such short notice, planned to speak out at the San Mateo meeting on Hatch’s behalf. She hopes politicians or maybe a neighbor can help them out.

"We're staying optimistic that some kind of accommodation can be reached," Rotherock said.

For her part, Hatch says she’s losing sleep over the thought of being shown the door, but her "little kitty cats" — porcelain, feline-shaped piggy banks — are helping her get through the situation.

The landlord’s lawyer released a statement Monday reiterating his client’s lack of knowledge about the lifetime tenancy agreement and said that he has offered Hatch and Rotherock a relocation package, which he hopes the pair will accept.

Hatch has also retained a lawyer and is considering taking legal action, she said.

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