Squatter on social assistance takes advantage of eviction moratorium, leaving homeowners in limbo

Korri Olsen walks past the Lakewood house she and her husband bought on their wedding day. As they walk by, their 2-year-old son asks, "When can we move in?" 

The little boy has been asking for almost a year since they closed on the house and had to hire an attorney to deal with half a dozen squatters who had been staying in the home.  

A moratorium on evictions due to the financial fallouts from COVID-19 was supposed to help renters who had lost their jobs during the pandemic, but no one in the house has been working for quite some time, neighbors tell FOX 11 off-camera. 

The neighbors have also complained about the drug use, the piling garbage among other problems. One neighbor tells FOX 11 they had been at the home for years, long before COVID-19 was an issue.

Nevertheless,  the Olsen family paid out tens of thousands of dollars in settlements. Now, only one person is left in the house. 

She is a woman in her mid-fifties who refuses to budge. The woman gets a daily visit from a social worker, who tells Korri because she is bedridden due to her obesity and other health problems, the woman can't be forced out.

The woman has continued staying put at Olsen's home despite other housing opportunities being available for her.

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Korri says they’ve tried, offering to pay first and last month’s rent, even offering thousands of dollars in cash. She has the right to refusal, and will not even allow them to walk into the property.  

They hoped that some restrictions on the moratorium, which has now been extended, could help. They are not landlords, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – voting unanimously on extending the moratorium – did lift a prohibition of evictions in the case of a landlord or family moving into a single-family home. But, that only applies in cases where the "profile of the owner of family members matches the profile of the existing tenant."

In other words, if a person considered disabled is living in the house, only a disabled person can move in. If a low-income person is living in the house, the new resident, or owner, has to also meet the "low Income" criteria.

The woman staying there hasn’t had a job for years. She lives on government assistance, which leaves Korri, a struggling hairdresser, her husband and the couple's son out of the house. 

"We were actually told by the social services person dealing with the woman living in the house," says an exasperated Korri. "That they could give us information on shelters for us to stay in."