Eviction of disabled Ann Arbor man prompts community backlash

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 8:49pm

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Courtesy of Jasmin Lee

A crowd of approximately 20 activists and community members protested outside the home of Craig Teschendorf, an Ann Arbor resident who is being evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the community, the Washtenaw General Defense Committee, Ann Arbor Tenants Union and Democratic Socialists of Huron Valley began protesting Teschendorf’s eviction Friday and continued on Tuesday. 

Reena Pang, a University alum and WGDC member, said Teschendorf received help from AdvisaCare, his previous health care company, to pay rent. 

“Putting Craig out on the street without a house, without any accommodations, during a pandemic is practically a death sentence,” Pang said. “It’s not right and I think all of us who are here believe that it’s not right.”

According to the WGDC, Teschendorf was not able to speak at his eviction hearing because he is classified as an occupant, with AdvisaCare listed on the lease. The WGDC also said AdvisaCare also did not inform Teschendorf he was being removed from their health care plan and only found out when he was evicted. While he has received a new health care provider, Teschendorf still needs to actively look for a representative within his new company in the middle of being evicted. 

Julia Goode, a member of the AATU, addressed the protestors and asked Teschendorf’s landlord to reverse the eviction.

“We want the landlord to play a positive role,” Goode said. “They can change this story. We want the landlord to take a stand against the eviction that they have initiated.”

Goode also told The Daily she is disappointed in Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo, who heard the case in Ann Arbor’s 15th District Court in July. Goode criticized her unwillingness to prevent this eviction.

“I’m really disappointed in the Ann Arbor Judge Valvo in this case,” Goode said. “She ordered him out on the street without allowing him to speak. She could have just as easily have said, ‘you all have a week, get together and figure this out…’ and instead she said, ‘old man in a wheelchair, put him on the curb.’”

Jen Eyer, Democratic candidate for City Council in Ward 4, attended the protest and told the crowd that she wants to continue being informed about Teschendorf’s situation and intends to make phone calls to prevent his eviction.

“I think it is absolutely mistaken that the eviction moratorium ran out and I think we should be lobbying to get that reinstated,” Eyer said. “So that’s one of the things I’m going to be making a phone call about today.”

Rackham student Jesse Holloway heard about the protest from his involvement in the WGDC. Holloway said he believes evictions are preventable, especially during a pandemic. 

“I just think that everybody should have a home and I don’t believe in the state’s authority to evict people from houses.” Holloway said. “I don’t know the full details but I know we’re opposing an eviction and that’s enough for me.”

Evan Redmond, former city council candidate, attended the protest and said he believes evictions are a societal problem rather than an individual one.

“I think that the city should impose a moratorium on all evictions,” Redmond said. “I’m really happy that the community has rallied around and helped at least, currently prevent him from being evicted and I think that any eviction is a failure of society, not the failure of the individual.”

Shortly after the speakers, Teschendorf wheeled onto his porch and addressed the crowd. He talked about his puppy, love for classical rock music and his family roots in Ann Arbor. 

Though Teschendorf said he appreciates the support he has received, he said his situation sheds light on a larger problem with healthcare providers.

“I think this cause is bigger than just me,” Teschendorf said. “I know it is. Not everybody is aware of people being dumped out on the sidewalk.”

Daily Staff Reporter Jasmin Lee can be reached at itsshlee@umich.edu