stories by joe rosato jr

Fired Pregnant Apartment Manager Now Faces Eviction During Crisis

NBCUniversal, Inc.

An Alameda apartment manager, fired two days into California’s mandatory shelter-at-home order, is now facing eviction from the home that came with her job. On top of that, she’s pregnant. 

“It’s a bit hard, I’m taking it a day at a time,” said Krystal McMorris, who managed La Playa Del Alameda apartments in Alameda. “It’s definitely frustrating.” 

McMorris said she worked for FPI Property Management for five years before she was fired for undisclosed reasons on March 19 — as COVID-19 infections picked up across the U.S. and Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state to shelter at home.

After her firing, the company gave her three days to vacate her apartment in the complex, which is the living quarters for the onsite property manager. 

McMorris, through the East Bay tenants rights group Eviction Defense Center, appealed to the company to allow her to stay. In a letter to her attorney, FPI agreed she could remain an additional 30 days without paying rent as “a basic human decency act.” But the company said she must be out of the apartment by April 17 or it would take legal action. 

“I’m not only unemployed now, I’m uninsured,” McMorris said. “So it’s a lot of concerns when I do leave out the house.” 

McMorris said she has spent the last few weeks looking for a new place to live but with much of the Bay Area locked down, it’s even more difficult to find housing. She said she feared for her safety, as well as the safety of her unborn child. 

“There’s just not many people are showing rental properties,” McMorris said, “and I mean even right now realistically with me having no employment.”

McMorris’ tenants rights attorney Anne Tamiko Moura asked FPI to extend its April 17 deadline until a short time after California’s stay-at-home order is lifted but the company refused, saying McMorris’ apartment is needed for her replacement.  

“We appealed to their basic decency,” said Moura. “Please don’t put a pregnant woman on the streets during the middle of a global pandemic.”

FPI attorney Servando Sandoval said before McMorris asked for more time, the company didn’t know she was pregnant. He confirmed the company had extended her stay in the apartment until April 17 rent free. After April 17, he said McMorris would be responsible for paying rent, which runs at $3 thousand a month.

Sandoval acknowledged that with courts closed for public safety, the company wouldn’t be able to begin the eviction process until after the stay-at-home order is lifted. But he maintained McMorris would be responsible for the rent after the April 17 deadline, and the company would take legal action to recoup the money. 

Moura said at a time of crisis, it was reprehensible a company would take such action. 

“To force her to be out in the street looking for a place and now looking for a job,” Moura said, “it’s just completely unreasonable. It’s heartless.” 

Over the weekend, McMorris packed up her belongings and traveled to San Francisco in an attempt to find a place to live. Moura said her client called her crying after a fruitless search. Moura urged her to go back to the Alameda apartment which she did. 

McMorris said she is frustrated now having no job, no insurance and a tenuous place to live, in the midst of a global crisis. 

“There’s really little to no opportunities right now for anything,” McMorris said. 

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