Juanita Fitzgerald was arrested a few days before her 94th birthday at a Florida Senior Living Facility for a late rent payment of $161. Born in Kentucky, the woman has a second child who lives in Tennessee and had divorced her second husband in 1970. The children were from her first marriage when she eloped at 17. The woman refused to leave the senior home where she had not paid her rent and put up quite a fuss in the lobby. The facility has been her home since 2011, and it houses 46 senior residents who she had been living with before the incident. It is also part of National Church Residences, which owns religious housing solutions for people who need low-cost housing.
On being taken to the police station, the woman claimed that all she had at the facility was gone, and she was a little concerned whether she would be allowed back into the facility. Additionally, she denied the accusations of not paying her rent and even claimed that she had tried paying, but the facility had refused to accept the rent. After the incident, reports of her arrest became announced nationwide on TV and other media outlets. She could be released from jail only if she paid her $500 bail. With the story going viral, there was an increased number of efforts to help her, and her bail was posted. She was released from jail and, as such, did not spend her 94th birthday behind bars. The woman was taken by the Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition, who rented a motel for her to ensure that she did not go to the streets on being released. The organization worked hard to accommodate her as she turned down offers from social service agencies and state officials to help. They were trying to help her solve her issues amicably with the facility where she had been arrested, but all their efforts were to no avail.
So, what could be the reason for her not paying rent? According to the National Church Residences spokesperson, who explained what happened, she claimed she would not pay her rent as she thought she would die soon. She even offered half of all her properties as payment for the rent, but this was all turned down by the facility. This is a ridiculous and unreasonable reason for her to refuse to pay her rent, and the compensation that she was offering would not be enough. It must have been the reason for the misunderstanding in the first place and why the police were called in to apprehend her. It was also the reason for the escalation in the events that led to her arrest, and the huge publicity she received once the details were broadcasted throughout the nation. Once she was bailed out of jail, she even refused to go back to the seniors’ facility, claiming that everything she previously owned was taken away. Luckily, an organization for homeless people listened to her plight and decided not to let her stay out in the cold streets. They rented a motel for her and have been the ones providing her with many of her needs up to now. This shows the compassion that society has for the elderly and what they are ready to do.