She could be anyone’s grandmother: tiny, silver haired, glasses perched on her nose. But this grandmother’s plight is causing a social media storm due to a piece of paper recently delivered to her door.
Marie Hatch, 97, has resided in the Burlingame, California cottage for over 65 years. It is a pretty little home, decorated with mementoes and comfortable furniture; it is not fancy but impeccably clean, tastefully decorated with photographs, a few antiques, and collectables. Marie cannot afford new, fancy furnishings as all of her savings account was spent to fight cancer – twice. She has a sublet roommate, 85-year-old Georgia Rothrock, and friend of 32 years. Marie worked blue-collar jobs all of her life and she and Georgia’s Social Security checks barely cover the $900 rent. It reads like another sad story about the state of the elderly’s treatment in this country, but it is not the worst chapter. Marie is facing eviction.
News of this eviction now races through the World Wide Web. A Google search of “Marie Hatch eviction” reveals over 50,000 results from tiny towns to overseas continents in numerous languages. A fund has been set up for Marie Hatch. As of this writing the Gofundme page, created February 21, has been shared 3.9K times and raised over 1,150 donations thus far. Marie Hatch’s story has travelled all over the world via Twitter, Facebook, news stations, newsprint, and online media. The case has also caught the attention of civil rights workers, renter’s protection advocates, attorneys, and political leaders.
For three generations Marie had living arrangements, first with her friend and landlord Vivian Kruse, then Kruse’s daughter, and finally Kruse’s granddaughter. Pamela Kantz, 55, owned the property until a boyfriend murdered her in 2006; her estranged husband David inherited the home. All of the women had the same verbal agreement with Marie: Marie could live in this house the rest of her life. Until the day it all crashed in with the serving of David Kantz’s eviction notice.
Across social media commentary, David Kantz is either vilified or heralded as exercising a legal right. Kantz says he feel horrible for serving the eviction notice, but must think of his sons’ inheritance (the home is now worth $1.2 million). Kantz’s emotional choices to his legal rights are judged as fast as people can type and hit “send.”
Besides the legal rights she has no idea how to exercise, and strict financial and physical limitations, the little woman now has emotional issues. “Gee whiz,” Marie told a reporter, “I have a lot of tears, a lot of happiness, a lot of memories in this house. It is my home.” And people are paying attention.