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Single Mom fears eviction due to son’s autism

The Sustrick family. L-R: Emmett, Courtney and Landin.


The Sustrick family. L-R: Emmett, Courtney and Landin.

By Melissa Schlicht

Local mom, Courtney Sustrick, lives in constant fear of homelessness due to her “noisy” son with autism. She has received two lease violations for noise, a third could result in eviction from her family home at Whispering Winds Apartment Complex.

If evicted Courtney says she “doesn’t have anywhere to go. My biggest fear is having to live in my vehicle again. I’ve done that twice now. Now it’s more important because I have two kids to look after. Landin would have to go live with his dad….and I can’t take care of Emmett if I don’t have any place to live.”

Emmett

Emmett

Courtney Sustrick, first started worrying about her 3 year old son Emmett’s behavior in July of 2013. He had been pulling at his ears and putting his hands over both ears and screaming. His vocabulary wasn’t developing as quickly as it had with her older son Landin. She had noticed some repetitive behaviors and other unusual patterns with Emmett’s behavior. She thought that an ear infection could be causing the problems. So, she took him in to see her family doctor.

Emmett

Emmett

Emmett did not have an ear infection. After several tests it was determined that Emmett had an Autistic Disorder. According to his mother “he has his good days and his bad days. On his bad days he can yell or scream for long periods of time, stomp and throw himself on the floor, slip out the front door and take off down the hall and throw chairs into the walls.”

4-11-14 Autism Whispering WindsIt is Emmett’s bad days that have raised an issue at Courtney’s apartment complex. Courtney is a single mom raising her two sons on her own. It is not easy. According to Courtney every day activities like going to the grocery store can be quite a chore with two kids. It’s even harder for her because she’s by herself and one of her children is a special needs child.
Courtney works as a waitress at the Doherty Hotel in Clare and lives on a limited income. She fears what will happen to them if she is evicted. She worries; “once you have an eviction under your belt getting into another apartment is nearly impossible.”

Emmett gets in home therapy three times a week for a total of twenty hours a week. His speech and behavior have improved somewhat with this therapy time. Courtney says, “There will be improvement but it will be slow and probably take years. It’s going to take a while it’s not going to be something that’s quick.” She fears it won’t be enough improvement that her neighbors won’t complain about the noise.
She does the best she can to control Emmett’s noise level. She says that “it depends on what mood he’s in, if he’s angry there is no consoling him and no way to calm him down or keep him quiet. If he is sad or hurt I can console him by coddling him and talk him down.”
Courtney’s small family lives on the second floor of Whispering Winds which is run by GLD management Company. They have received two lease violations from GLD management Company to date. The violations state:

Emmett

Emmett

“It has been reported to our office that there has been excessive noise coming from your apartment home and it has been reported there is running up and down the hallways at all times of the day and night. You must respect the peaceful enjoyment of other residents and quiet down your activities on the premises.”

The lease violations both warn that if Courtney did not correct the violations within 10 days of the receipt of the notice management “may seek to terminate the lease agreement by bringing forth judicial action.” Each time Courtney has responded in writing to GLD Management Company explaining Emmett’s autism and how his behavior is erratic and not something that she can control. Each time she has received a notice back from GLD Management stating that the lease violations were resolved. Her most recent lease violation stated:
This is your second written notice of lease violations, upon the third notice of any lease violation management may seek to terminate your tenancy.

When contacted regarding the lease violations, a spokesperson of GLD management confirmed that if Courtney received a third lease violation her lease with them could be terminated, regardless of Emmett’s condition.

When asked how that correlated with the fair housing act they said “due to the fair housing act each person has to be held up to the same standards.” Then they gave an example of a tenant who had a loud party, received a lease violation and then went to speak with management. They explained that the lease violation would be resolved but not taken off the record. So if they had a second loud party they would receive a second lease violation. Again, they would have to go to management within 10 days to have it resolved. And if they had a third party they could have their lease terminated.

How is choosing to have a loud party and having a son whose behavior is loud due to a disability even comparable? Not sure. Courtney did not choose for Emmett to have this disability.

GLD management said that “sometimes apartment style living isn’t best for autistic children.” So how does that fit in with “fair” housing? Where are families with children with special needs supposed to go?

When questioned about what, if anything, they could do to accommodate this family GLD didn’t really have any answers.

When further prompted with the suggestion that perhaps Courtney could be moved to a first floor apartment or moved to an area of the buildings that had more families GLD confirmed they could accommodate the family. If Courtney could prove “there was a medical need, and a request for Reasonable Accommodation modification form was completed by her physician”.

Would this alleviate the fear of eviction? Not really. GLD confirmed that even if she were moved to a first floor apartment “she could still have her lease terminated if she received a third lease violation for noise.” So, the family would still be faced with the same problem. One more noise complaint and Courtney’s worst fear could come true. Courtney said “I feel like I’m not even welcome in the area because of Emmett’s disability.”

16 Responses to Single Mom fears eviction due to son’s autism

  1. A. Wilson Reply

    April 9, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Courtney, hit up the better business
    Bearuo, legal aid and 9 and 10 news. That is discrimination! You CAN’T be put out for a disability! It’s against the law!! Good luck girl!

    • courtney Reply

      April 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Thank you…. if I have to I surely well.

  2. annoyed Reply

    April 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Its not her kids!! Its her screaming profanity at the top of her lungs constantly at her kids!! You can hear her any where you go on the property..even out to the road. He is autistic..Not Deaf!!!! Plus…bringing a pit bull puppy to the apartment and allowing your small child to be dragged across the parking to take it potty..only to leave its droppings everywhere. Its not your kids!! Its YOU!

    • courtney Reply

      April 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Well that’s not what the violations say. I have them. They are about noise. Pounding on the floor, running, and throwing things. My dog is lab mix. And for your information, my oldest asked me to take her out. Ask him yourself. In my presence of course.

  3. very annoyed Reply

    April 12, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Courtney has brought all this trouble on herself. The noise is a problem and has continued to be so for months. The verbal abuse of the children has been another problem this to has been going on for months and the neighbors are getting tired of it. Even visitors can’t believe her verbal abuse. I do believe CPS has to be brought into this mess she has created for herself. Then she brings in a puppy un-authorized by management. He has been dragged all over the complex by the dog. Hopefully more residents of the complex will come forth.

    • courtney Reply

      April 14, 2014 at 2:07 am

      Unauthorized huh…. care to check that again? Do I get in your business? No. So please leave me and mine alone!!

  4. TOLD YOU SO! Reply

    April 14, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I told you before you moved in there that you would have to keep your voice down, you live in an apartment dwelling and I have told you numerous times, as others have to, that we could hear you screaming at those boys from out in the middle of the parking lot. So, do you believe us now???

  5. Agree with annoyed! Reply

    April 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Yes, I agree with the comment from annoyed, all we ever hear is Courtney screaming to the top of her lungs with profanity at them boys!! I feel so sorry for the kids, they need to go with someone who will SHOW them Love and not call them f*****g idiots all the time! As far as the dog is concerned, you say that you allow your son to walk the dog at his request, well the dog is almost as big as he is, common sense would tell you not to allow him outside alone with the dog. You say it’s in your presence when in reality you should physically be downstairs with them not standing in your slider door. And I wonder how the apartment complex would feel about your dog if they knew it had Pitt in it, and don’t try to make everyone believe that it is lab mix, you can look at it and tell it is mixed with Pitt!!!! And you say that you want people to stay out of your business, well now it is all of Clare counties busy!! YOU made it that way when you chose to place an article in the news paper for the entire world to see!!!!

    • courtney Reply

      April 15, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Ok. If you know my life so well. Then do as you think. But I promise you these boys are very well taken care of. You don’t live my life so don’t judge and assume. I have a behavior aid that spend 4 hours a day four days a week in the house with us. He knows us and knows Emmet well. I also have another person that over sees him once a week. There is also a behavior analyst that comes out once a month. We also have a case worker with mental health. They all know how things go in my house with my family. They would be happy to explain it all. Thank you. I hope you all have a great day. :-)

    • very annoyed Reply

      April 15, 2014 at 4:09 am

      I do agree with AGREE WITH ANNOYED.

  6. tina Reply

    April 14, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    There has to be more to this story than being evicted over a child’s noise! I would be just about anything that it’s over the parent yelling just as another posted said. when parents are stressed over money they often will yell and scream at their children b/c of frustration. I see it all the time.. and it is never ok to yell at them especially when one is handicapped.. PERIOD! he doesn’t understand why mommy’s angry at him. someone wants a handout, and for the kids’ sake, I truly hope CPS investigates this thoroughly!

  7. very annoyed Reply

    April 15, 2014 at 4:06 am

    This news article has really generated a lot of interest. The comments have been very negative with other complex members sharing their observations of Courtney and the verbal abuse against the children. The comments that I made on 14 April 2014 are true. Common sense is not being used in this instance. After 2 violations a person should get the hint to stop the noise (DUH).

  8. Agree with annoyed! Reply

    April 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    We may not LIVE your life, unfortunately we do have to live around you and if you feel that verbal abuse is taking good care of your kids then you need some child development classes! And maybe all the case workers, behavior aids and behavior analysts need to be there for you instead of your son because you obviously don’t understand what everyone is complaining about, it’s YOU!!! And you using profanity towards those boys, we’ve all heard it and we are tired of it!

  9. Another Review Fail Reply

    April 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Where is Whispering Winds? The reporter did not say.

  10. really are you serious Reply

    April 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I know that she yells at her kids because I have lived near her before. I also am pretty sure the reason her son don’t know how to talk is because her screaming at him and his brother speaking for him when he was asked what he wanted. The anger problems come from her and she needs help with them. I believe that she needs parenting classes. She can’t handle either of them kids. I have heard her tell then to stop or she would punch them in the head. Come on really trying to get people to feel sorry for you when it is you own fault that it is so noisy in your home. The running down the halls is probably the kids running from you because they are scared of you. You are very mean to them and something or somebody needs to stop this.

  11. common sense Reply

    April 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Strange everyone’s so concerned about the boys well-being now that this article has been published..if verbal abuse truly is the case then instead of calling thr apartment complex someone probably should have called the cops dont ya think?!?!?!? It’s funny how as soon as this is public & there’s talk of discrimination people start pointing fingers…here’s some advice people IF YOU SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT even if it verbal in ANY situation your first call should be the POLICE! In this case with an autistic child she surely has multiple people already monitoring her interaction with her children so its hard to believe this is the case…if it is then all these residents should feel ASHAMED of THEMSELVES for not notifying police.!DONT BE A BYSTANDER!

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