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Remembering late mother-in-law, Schwarzenegger intervenes to stop Monrovia evictions

September 18, 2009 |  9:58 am

Regency Disabled residents of a Monrovia apartment complex who were issued lease termination notices will be allowed to stay in their homes, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today.

"I am here to tell all the people here that your eviction notice is being terminated," Schwarzenegger said in the courtyard of Regency Court Apartments in front of dozens of its residents and their families who cheered and clapped.

Last month, about 20 physically or developmentally disabled tenants of Regency Court were notified that their leases were being terminated because the complex was always meant to be a senior apartment community. Those under age 62 never should have been allowed to move in, the letter said, and would now have to leave.

Among them was Lily Hixon, who has Down syndrome and was featured in a story about the complex in Thursday's Times. That night, an update on Schwarzenegger's Twitter page read, "My mother-in-law fought so that people like Lily Hixon could live independently" and linked to the Times' story.

About an hour later, another post said that the governor had spoken to Star-Holdings, the Rockford, Ill.-based owner of the property, and that the disabled residents would be able to stay. Schwarzenegger confirmed today that he had called the owners and property managers of Regency Court, who agreed not to pursue the lease terminations.

He said he had been inspired to make the call after reading the Times' story and thinking about his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Shriver, who died in August, founded the Special Olympics and was an advocate for people with disabilities.

"All of a sudden I heard [her] voice in my ear," Schwarzenegger said. "She says, 'Arnold why are you sitting around now, you just read the story, do something!'"

Hixon's father, Ken, was elated after the governor's visit. "I'm really happy for the tenants," he said. "What's really scary is what would've happened and what is happening in other places around California where people don't know how to organize or get the attention of the press."

-- Corina Knoll in Monrovia

Photo: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger greets Matt and Laura Fosbury, residents of Regency Court Apartments, after announcing Friday that disabled residents will not be evicted from the complex.

Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times