93-year-old woman arrested because she wasn’t paying rent to senior living facility, she says it’s not true

A few days before her 94th birthday, the police came to arrest Juanita Fitzgerald at the Florida senior living facility. Officers handcuffed her and carried her from her residence at the senior living facility while leaving all her belongings behind. Apparently, she was arrested for being late on her rent payment, which at the time was $161. According to the police report, Ms Fitzgerald told the officers: “Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere.”

As officers attempted to escort her from the front lobby, Fitzgerald “intentionally slid out of her chair and onto the floor,” according to the report. At one point she grabbed the glasses from a deputy’s face. Juanita had lived at the senior home since 2011. The house has 46 residents living there and is part of National Church Residences, a religious housing nonprofit based in Ohio. Everything that she owned is now gone, Juanita claims. Her biggest concern was that the facility would no longer allow her to come back. “I don’t have anybody. My family is in Tennessee and I told them not to tell my son anything that’s going on,” she said.

Fitzgerald also said she tried to pay her rent and was refused. Reports of her arrest — two days before her 94th birthday — had been publicized nationwide and that prompted efforts to help her. Luckily, her $500 bail was posted and Juanita was released from jail. The senior citizen was able to spend her birthday without being behind bars. Juanita was later taken care of by the Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition and put into a nearby motel after her bail was posted and she was free to go. The organization wanted to make sure that the elderly lady didn’t end up on the streets after being released from jail.

The organization’s board member, B.E. Thompson, stated that they are working with her in order to accommodate her as quickly as they possibly can. But Juanita continued to refuse help from state officials and social service agencies. Karen Twinem, a spokesperson for National Church Residences who own her former residence, told WKMG Ms Fitzgerald had said she would not pay rent because she thought she would die soon. Juanita stated that she did offer half of all of her properties, but the facility turned the offer down. Luckily, Juanita is now receiving the assistance she needs, with the help of a local Florida resident. A GoFundMe page was set up for her to help with her housing situation.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Juanita was born in Kentucky and prefers the King James Bible over any other version. She has a second child, who also lives in Tennessee. Both are from her first marriage when she eloped at 17, she said. She divorced her second husband in 1970. “Lord, the living I’ve done since then,” Fitzgerald said.

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