Facing eviction, woman claims discrimination

Blind Eviction

Desert Hot Springs, Calif. - Michelle Stopyra is trying everything she can to fight eviction from the Desert Hot Springs mobile home she owns.

"I'm very scared," Stopyra said. "I'm going to be homeless. I don't have very much money to live on. I'm going to be sleeping in my truck with my dog in the desert."

Stopyra's home is in the Sky Valley Resort, where she has always paid her monthly rent for the pad her home sits on. She says she's being discriminated against.

Stopyra is legally blind, has severe anxiety, and a severe skin condition that keeps her out of the sun, and more active at night.

"They told me that I'm not their kind," Stopyra said. "And it was for the greater good that I leave."

The park has cited her for being in the community pool area after hours, and not properly maintaining the exterior of her home, though today it appears in similar condition to other homes nearby.

"We don't want to go into specifics on a private matter," Sky Valley Resort Manager, Garrett Manthei said. "However, it does go into rules and regulations of the resort."

A judge agreed with the resort and issued the eviction order, but Stopyra now has an attorney who is filing a petition asking the judge to undo the judgment. Shaun Murphy says he will present evidence Stopyra was unable to show at trial when she was representing herself.

"Discrimination by this park because they have a particular type of resident that they want," Murphy said. "Michelle and Paul (Colella) are not their kind of people. Those are their words. They are not our kind."

Paul Colella is Stopyra's in-home care giver.

"It's been very difficult," Colella said. "Very condescending and very oppressive."

The park's manager says if Stopyra's home looked as good on the outside when the eviction process began months ago as it does today, things would have never gotten to this point.

"I want to say so strongly that we care about Michelle," Manthei said. "We care about all our people here. But in order to show that care, we need to have rules followed."

Stopyra says that park management offered her no concessions for her disabilities, and singled her out for scrutiny.

"I would like them to let me just be," Stopyra said. "This is my home. I want my home more than anything."

Stopyra went so far as to declare bankruptcy to put off the eviction that was scheduled for Tuesday.

She could end up losing her home to the Sky Valley Resort in the eviction process.

Murphy, her attorney, says the law allows the judge to grant relief from forfeiture in cases of extreme hardship, which he believes this is.

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