Sonja Lee, a mother to two boys, was left in te*rs after receiving an eviction notice with an emoji following weeks of struggle during the outbr*ak.
The 33-year-old tells PEOPLE she lost her job following the pand*mic’s start and has been applying to jobs using online services. Making matters wo*se, Lee says she was recently hired for a job that turned out to be a “sc*m,” and was left three months behind rent because of the setback.
“I was overwhelmed because, to be honest, I felt like I was in a big h*le and I couldn’t get out of it because I was set back so much,” says Lee, who lives at The Steeples apartment complex in Houston.
“So it’s like, I’m a single mother with two boys. I do the best that I can and am a very hard-working woman.””I was sc*red,” she adds. “I didn’t know what I was going to do after exhau*ting all of my resources from calling 211, local health assistance, and wasn’t able to get through, I didn’t know what to do.”
Lee says she kept in communication with property managers about her situation, which improved when she was hired for a job set to begin on Aug. 24.But on Monday afternoon, Lee found the ev!ction notice on her door.”Guess who’s moving? You!!!” the message began, followed by a large smiling emoji. “Pay your outstanding balance, or release your apartment and turn in your keys to the le*sing office by 6:00 p.m. today. Ev!ction will be filed promptly Tuesday morning, 8/18/2020.”
The notice, and the insensitivity in how it was delivered, was a punch to the gut during a pa!nful chapter for her family, Lee says.”I was mad, I ain’t going to lie,” she recalls of receiving the letter. “I didn’t think it was funny at all. I felt like they were anta*onizing the ten*nts through the situation and it was heartless, especially during a pan*emic.”
Unemployed Houston Mom of 2 Hit With Insensitive Eviction Notice
Posted by Black Main Street on Thursday, August 20, 2020
“A lot of people have lost their jobs,” Lee continues. “A lot of people aren’t able to get the resources. I was denied unemployment five times.”After local news stations picked up Lee’s story, Swapnil Agarwal, CEO of Karya Property Management — which operates The Steeples complex — apologized on behalf of the company.
“The bu-ck stops with me, so yes, I do personally apologize,” Agarwal told KTRK. “I wish I had the time and the resources to reach out personally to every one of them who have dealt with any issues at our properties. But I am apologizing personally in case it was insensitive, and if she was really trying to work out a payment program with the property or that she was in communication with the manager, then I accept it’s truly our fa*lt.”
Agarwal told the outlet the manager who wrote the ev!ction letter has been “repr!manded.” Lee is also not under ev!ction, she added.Lee said a regional manager with Karya Property Management — which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment — reached out to her and apologized for the incident. Since sharing her story, Lee has started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for her and her two children, 2-year-old Sean and 12-year-old Patrick, which has raised over $11,500. It has helped to rekindle her spirits, she says.”Despite what you may go through, the trials and tribulations that might be thrown at you, never give up,” Lee explains. “When it feels like you don’t have nothing else left in you, that’s when blessings will start pouring. So when you feel like there’s nothing left, if you have faith, keep your faith, stay strong, and just stay positive because blessings are real and miracles do happen within a blink of an eye.”
This Article First Published On PEOPLE