Elderly woman evicted for upgrades finds new home 

  • Trudy Charlton, 74, smiles as she looks down at the keys to her new apartment on Friday. Charlton thought she was going to be homeless when her landlord told her she needed to move out of her apartment for renovations.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

  • Trudy Charlton, 74, smiles outside her old apartment at Oak Bridge Condominiums in Concord on Friday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

  • Trudy Charlton, 74, smiles as she looks down at the keys to her new apartment on Friday. Charlton thought she was going to be homeless when her landlord told her she needed to move out of her apartment for renovations. LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

  • Trudy Charlton, 74, holds out the keys to her new apartment in Concord on Friday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

  • Trudy Charlton, 74, smiles outside her old apartment at Oak Bridge Condominiums in Concord on Friday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/5/2019 2:43:45 PM

Trudy Charlton can’t wait to sit on her new porch, drink tea and read romance novels.

It’s one of the many things the 74-year-old from Concord is looking forward to now that she has a place to live.

Charlton was almost homeless after she found out in October that she would be evicted from her apartment at Oak Bridge Condominiums on Jan. 8 so it could be renovated. As Monday’s deadline approached, Charlton began to panic. She lives on a fixed income, doesn’t use computers and had no car to look at new places.

Since her story was featured in the Monitor on Wednesday, she said her phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people offering support and deals on housing.

“I can’t believe it,” Charlton said on Friday, still at her old apartment getting ready to pack up her belongings. “There are good people out there.”

One of those callers offered her an apartment in downtown Concord at about half the price she was paying for her current condo.

Her new space has two-bedrooms with a living room, eat-in kitchen, washer and dryer, and a little porch, which Charlton is most excited about.

“Now I can sit and look outside and watch all the cars and people go by,” she said, smiling.

Another woman, from Andover who didn’t want to be identified, volunteered to buy Charlton moving boxes, and help her move into her new place.

“Too many odds were stacked against her, and it wasn’t fair,” the woman said.

Charlton said she still can’t believe that so many people would want to help her.

“These people are amazing,” she said. “They are straight from God.”

Trudy’s story

Charlton said she received notice from an attorney on Oct. 30 saying that she had one month to vacate her apartment at Oak Bridge, which was later extended to Jan. 8.

According to court documents, a lawyer for Charlton’s landlord said Charlton’s eviction was “not any allegation of wrongdoing” on her part. The landlord wanted to take the apartment off the market and complete renovations that would bring it up to market value, documents said.

She said it wasn’t something she saw coming – she had lived there since 2016 and was a quiet tenant who paid her rent on time.

“It was a shock,” she said.

Even though a judge extended Charlton’s deadline to find a new apartment, it still didn’t feel like enough time, she said.

The last two months she was frantically applying to everything she could find, but in most cases, she was put on a waiting list. One letter from Section 8 housing said her wait time would be seven to nine years.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance Housing Project Director Elliott Berry said the lack of affordable housing in New Hampshire – one of the country’s fastest aging states – is setting the Granite State up for a lot more cases like Charlton’s.

The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the state right now is about $875, Berry said. Charlton and her current roommate split the $1,200 per month rent. Carlton receives $791 a month in Social Security and funds from the state’s old age assistance program, according to documents.

“There is no doubt that without lower cost housing and an aging population, we will be facing a very serious problem of elderly homeless people,” Berry said.

Helping hand

Charlton’s new lease is for six months, and her landlord said she can stay longer if she can find a roommate to live with her. Her roommate at her current apartment found somewhere else to live.

She’s been talking to one of her friends she’s known since she was a teenager about moving in.

“Whatever happens, now at least I know I have more time to prepare, and I don’t have to worry,” she said.

She said she’s thought of starting her own organization to help older people who are struggling called “You Are Not Alone.” She said she doesn’t ever want other people to feel as hopeless as she did.

“I spent so many nights crying, feeling like no one cared,” she said. “But there are angels out there.”

(Leah Willingham can be reached at lwillingham@cmonitor.com.)




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