Too Old To Live Alone?

At age 82, Hop Symons likes where he lives and how he lives: alone on Florida's Sanibel Island in his city-owned apartment.

It's been his home for 13 years.

He has diabetes and glaucoma, which his landlord saw as proof Symons no longer could live independently and moved to evict him.

"I could see no reason for this, allowing local city employees to treat older people this way," says Symons. "It's ridiculous. Monstrous."

As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, in graying America, housing discrimination against the elderly is a growing worry.

Ninety-year-old Edith Hoffman wanted to move closer to her daughter Ginny.

But a California retirement home denied her application, because of her diabetes and hypertension.

"I think they wanted to know a lot more than they should know," she says.

They also wanted to know more than the law allows.

The Fair Housing Act says landlords can't ask elderly applicants about their health and can't evict elderly tenants just because they seem physically or mentally frail. But most seniors don't know that.

"There have been cases where retirement centers have purged their entire populations of anyone with disabilities," says AARP attorney Susan Silverstein.

But there are worrisome, even dangerous elderly tenants living in condo complexes like one near Ft. Lauderdale, where they forget to turn off stove burners or lash out in confusion and frighten everyone else.

"It's a terrible responsibility to know how to cope with someone's illness," says Belle Sheiner, condo association president.

Hoffman finally moved to a different retirement community in San Jose. With the Fair Housing Law Project, she's suing Valley Village, which refused to comment on the case.

Her doctors tell her she's in better shape than most 90-year-olds.

"I believe it," she says.

Symons sued to keep his place and won.

But every year, thousands of seniors lose their home to illegal evictions, often, without a fight.
  • Jaime Holguin

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