This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After spending Christmas Eve and Christmas in bed because of medical ailments and just days away from being evicted from her Taylorsville duplex, Kimberly Gross got some much-needed good news.
Readers of The Salt Lake Tribune donated over $3,700 to Gross and her two daughters after their plight was described in a Dec. 20 story.
The family is grateful but still faces serious challenges, not least of which is their scheduled Jan. 2 eviction and the prospect of again becoming homeless. The single mom also suffers from continuing health problems.
On Dec. 23, a home-care nurse rushed Gross to the emergency room at the University of Utah Medical Center. Her potassium levels had crashed and she was having difficulty moving because of extreme pain in her joints.
She returned home that evening, spending the next two days in bed. Tuesday, she was back at the hospital for more potassium infusions and complained of back and joint pain.
Earlier this month, a 3rd District judge ruled that the 46-year-old mother, and her daughters, Destiny Westman, 10, and Petrina Westman, 14, must vacate a basement apartment where they have lived for the past 15 months with initial assistance from The Road Home.
The Dec. 20 Tribune story about the family's likely return to homelessness received some 400,000 web hits from around the country. More than 80 readers from New York to Los Angeles sent emails to The Tribune asking how they could help.
One reader Ife James, reflected on the challenges facing the trio.
"I read your story about the Gross family and wanted to help in some way," she wrote. "I have been in her shoes and this time of year is the hardest, to say the least."
An attorney for the Gross family set up a gofundme account. As of Tuesday, 36 donors had given $3,730 to the family.
Gross said she is thankful for the warmth and generosity and the money certainly will help. Nonetheless, the family's future remains uncertain, because she is not healthy enough to work.
The ordeal has been hard on her daughters, Gross said in a telephone interview from the hospital.
"Destiny is very worried," she said of her younger child. "She is having a hard time. They aren't ready for this."
In October 2015, the family, staying at The Road Home shelter, found housing in the Taylorsville duplex through Rapid Rehousing a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that is administered in Salt Lake City by The Road Home.
But last summer, with her health deteriorating, her doctor ordered her to stop working. Rent became an issue. She did not pay the $850 rent for October, November and December.
In September, she discovered the basement apartment was not a legal duplex, according to Taylorsville zoning and building codes. It had no mailbox and entry could be made only through the garage.
Further, the duplex had only one thermostat in the upstairs apartment. The renters upstairs paid the electricity bill, Gross said, while she paid the heating bill even though she had no control on temperature setting. She had to come up with $96 per month for that utility.
According to HUD policies, federal funds cannot be used on units that are at odds with local laws and ordinances.
In addition, federal regulations require that each unit be inspected by administrators before it can become part of the Rapid Rehousing program.
It's unclear whether The Road Home inspected the basement apartment. Officially, the nonprofit organization has said it follows all HUD regulations.
The duplex owner has said the upstairs tenants have moved and Gross now has access to the thermostat.
An attorney representing Gross free of charge, Joshua T. Tandy, told The Tribune his client has filed a counterclaim against the duplex owner. She withheld rent because the unit was not within Taylorsville or HUD guidelines, he said, noting there should be a rent adjustment.
Tandy also argued in court that Gross is being evicted because she reported the housing violation to Taylorsville officials.
It remains uncertain whether the counterclaim will buy more time before the eviction.