(WSVN) - She left college to help care for her grandparents, but it caused problems with their housing community. Now the association has decided to evict them, but legally, can they do that? It’s why they contacted Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Every parent and every child has a special relationship. Theresa and Nasir’s bond is even more unique.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “She’s my granddaughter/daughter. We adopted her after her mom died.”

Theresa and her husband Thomas adopted Nasir when she was 2, watching her grow up, then head off to college in New York.

Nasir Boykin Smith: “So I’m studying pre-law, and I still am studying. It’s just online.”

Studying online, because when her grandfather got very sick, she left school and returned to South Florida to help Theresa take care of him.

Nasir Boykin Smith: “You know what? He did a lot of things for me that he didn’t have to do, so I felt like it was an obligation, but it was also an honor when I was doing these things.”

Thomas was not well, as you can see from a picture. The Air Force veteran was in rough shape.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “There was no way I could take care of him by myself. I needed this girl, who I thank God for her.”

Then, Theresa fell, damaging her back and her legs, making Nasir even more vital.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “She can’t lift things. She can’t even stand to cook, so I have to help her.”

At the time, Nasir was living with an aunt. She couldn’t stay with the couple who raised her because Orangebrook Harbor is a 55-and-older community. Instead, she came over each day.

Things were OK. Then, the letter came.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “They’re trying to evict me.”

Even though Theresa owns her mobile home, she rents the property it sits on from the owners. Their attorney wrote that the Smiths’ son, who occasionally came from Orlando, and Nasir, who came every day, were “residing in the mobile home,” giving the association the right to “evict the mobile home owner,” Thomas and Theresa.

Nasir explained she didn’t live there.

Nasir Boykin Smith: “I would come in around 7 o’clock or 9 o’clock, and then I would stay until 11 or 10.”

Theresa Boykin Smith: “I said, ‘No, the community can’t say they live here.’ I said, ‘I’m telling you now, they do not live here.'”

A month after the eviction letter, Thomas died. Theresa tried to reason with the association to allow her to stay. She got nowhere.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “It didn’t feel good.”

Nasir Boykin Smith: “She cried that day.”

The association then refused to allow Theresa to pay rent for the land her mobile home sits on, giving them more ammunition to speed up the eviction.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “I would love to stay in my house. I would love to stay here.”

But she can’t be pushed out, or can she? Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Absolutely not. First of all, Nasir doesn’t live there, but even if she did, the Fair Housing Act requires the association to provide a reasonable accommodation because her grandmother is disabled and needs her assistance.”

We asked Matthew Dietz, a noted attorney on disability, and his law students at Nova Southeastern to take a look at this case.

Matthew Dietz: “My students are learning exactly what a reasonable accommodation is.”

With Matthew’s guidance, they delivered the news Theresa and Nasir had hoped to hear.

Theresa Boykin Smith: “It was some great news that we won the case. We don’t have to move anymore.”

A key to winning your case? Matthew, now Professor Dietz, says a disabled person like Theresa has to ask to let Nasir come take care of her.

Matthew Dietz: “Now, a lot of people don’t, and that’s part of the problem. If you don’t ask, you’re not entitled to it.”

Theresa and Nasir got what they wanted after their call to Help Me Howard.

Nasir Boykin Smith: “I’m happy my grandma gets to keep her home.”

Theresa Boykin Smith: “Thank God that we won. We don’t have to move.”

Glad we could help, Theresa, and thanks to Matthew Dietz and his law students for stepping in as well.

Now, if you have a disability and feel you are being discriminated against in housing, employment, and other fields, Matthew and his students would love to work with you to solve it. They’ve proven they’re winners.

For persons who need advice or assistance regarding discrimination against persons with disabilities in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations, government services and guardianship matters, email Professor Matthew Dietz at mdietz@nova.edu.

Got a problem you want to evict from your life? Get mobile and find a home with us. We won’t move in with you, but we will try to move out the problem.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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