Joan Holdsworth

At 81, Joan Holdsworth sits in the Scottsdale apartment she calls home for less than another week because her landlord is evicting her.

At 81 years old, Joan Holdsworth looks back on a humble but happy life.

She would make care packages for homeless folks through her church, then beef them up a little with her own special touches with little things like a new pair of socks.

She would drive her pickup truck around Scottsdale to deliver the packages and drop off her rent check.

Then in June she had a stroke, then another two weeks later and a third at the end of August.

Now, she needs help with everything except brushing her hair and teeth, said her daughter, Marcia Uddoh.

Uddoh dropped her studies in Tucson and moved up to Scottsdale to care for her mother after the first stroke. 

Then the other shoe dropped.

Holdsworth got a letter dated Nov. 29 from West USA Realty, which handles her property for her landlord, saying she has until Jan. 1 to vacate the apartment located near N. Scottsdale and E. Chaparral roads. 

She says she wasn’t late on her rent and she doubts anyone complained about her. 

“I was the one people came to with their problems, Holdsworth said. “I was the den mother.” 

Holdsworth and her daughter have been looking for somewhere to move to that is not too far away because Holdsworth has a strong support network that includes the adult day care she goes to three times per week in the area. 

“We’re going to have to pay around $1,400 a month, which is $500 a month more than we’re paying now,” Uddoh said.

Rents are reaching higher than mortgages without the return in equity in a home, said Joan Serviss, the executive director of Arizona Housing Coalition.

“Housing has become a luxury, instead of a necessity,” Serviss said. 

Uddoh wrote West USA Realty a letter asking for an extra six months to find a place. 

They got a letter in return from the agency’s attorney, Denise Holliday.

“Unfortunately, my client is unable to grant that request because he needs to move back into that home,” Holliday wrote. “It is imperative that the home be returned by 12/31/21 to avoid an eviction action.”

The individual handling the case for West USA Realty referred all questions to Holliday, who did not return the Progress’ calls. 

Uddoh and her mother don’t want to fight the situation and risk getting an eviction on their record. They figure they’ll never find an apartment to rent if that happens.

The two don’t believe the owner wants to move back into the condominium. They figure it’s about how much more he could be renting out the place for. 

“I was minding my own business; doing my own thing,” she said as she broke into tears. “I feel so unloved. I am just as good as anyone else whether they have a million dollars or two cents. I’m part of God’s creation.”

Holdsworth was born in Jamaica and grew up in England and Ireland.

As a young lady, she was a painter and made a living in real estate in New York. 

In 1991 she moved to Santa Fe to simplify her life. She wanted to focus on painting and leading a spiritual life, she said. 

She visited Scottsdale about three years ago for what was supposed to be a quick visit to the Mayo Clinic and has been in the apartment since then. 

Uddoh tried going to her mother’s church last year to get help for a homeless man, but they simply put her in touch with a shelter. Uddoh doesn’t want to go that way if she doesn’t have to. 

Uddoh figures the two of them will go to an extended stay hotel before they go to a shelter or she puts her mother in a nursing home. 

“As long as I have breath in my body, she’ll be with me,” Uddoh said.