How can I get my brother out of my mom's apartment?
August 15, 2010 7:32 PM   Subscribe

How can I get my violent brother out of my mom's senior apartment? Social workers, especially those who work with the elderly, your help is greatly needed.

My drunken, violent brother is living with my mom in her senior apartment. (some background on the situation here.) I just received a phone call from one of her neighbors, who wanted to let me know that they had overheard my brother screaming at my mom and threatening her. I called and spoke with my mom, and she gave me the usual "it's fine, it's just how he always is, don't come over" spiel. I decided not to go over there because they are both drunk and I don't want to escalate the situation, especially in light of the fact that she will just let him back into her apartment, and it will only be worse. He called me and tried to argue his side, and I just told him "If I hear anything like this again, I will call the police."

The problem with this is that I have already called the police when he hit my mom and stole her ATM card. My brother's ex-wife called my mom and got her to drop the charges, and my brother was back on my mom's couch within the week. My mom, as you may have guessed, is a huge enabler to my brother, as he is to her. If I bring the cops in on this, and I can't get anything to stick, then I will just be guaranteeing that I will NEVER hear from her when things get bad, because she'd rather put up with the drunken violence than change the situation.

My mom is not allowed to have anyone living with her in the apartment. I'm pretty much sure that everyone there knows he's staying there, and they are turning a blind eye to the situation. My question is can I force this situation to change without my mom losing her apartment? There is no way she can stay with me, I'm unemployed and live in a studio apartment. My first impulse is to call the building management and let them know what's going on. My mom would very likely obey them, even if she won't protect herself. If I do this will she be kicked out? Is there some other organization I can call that can force him to leave? She will not cooperate in this, it will have to be by force. Honestly, at this point, I almost want to just let them kill each other and remove the problem. The apartment is manage by HUD, she lives in Oakland, California.
posted by The Light Fantastic to Human Relations (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What your brother is perpetrating on your mother is classic elder abuse. Coincidentally the Berkeley paper did a story on it not long ago listing local resources you'll want to contact for advice on how to proceed.
posted by The Straightener at 7:47 PM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I assume there are in the same State as you?

Try starting here

There are other routes, that are difficult and can be contentious, such as seeking some type of conservatorship if your mom can be shown sufficient incapable, but I really would follow the link first, and report it to the applicable authorities before thinking of the other drastic steps
posted by edgeways at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2010

You might want to call Adult Protective Services. The Oakland branch is 510.577.3500 or 866.225.5277 (866.CALL-APS).

I actually had APS called on me (I take care of my mom) by a crazy relative once. At least in our case, they did three random surprise visits to check the condition of Mom and our home. If nothing else, knowing that APS could drop by at any moment may keep your brother from being too much of a dick.

If you don't want to get blamed for APS showing up and don't mind being sneaky, you could have a friend write a note from "a neighbor" and tape it to their door, saying that they hear the fighting and threatening to call the authorities if it continues. Misdirection FTW.

Good luck, seriously. This sounds just like my brother and my mom.
posted by Gianna at 8:30 PM on August 15, 2010

More about Adult Protective Services for Alameda County. This is urgent.
posted by scody at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Be careful about calling APS, your brother is living with your mother in violation of her HUD lease and you don't want her to lose her housing subsidy, which could very well happen if APS becomes involved. I would recommend talking to a local expert in the elder abuse advocacy community, laying out all the details you've laid out here and let them walk you through what your course of action should be.
posted by The Straightener at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2010

The area field office for HUD has a 1-800 number. Anonymous pay phone call to ask them?
posted by salvia at 9:01 PM on August 15, 2010

Response by poster: "Be careful about calling APS, your brother is living with your mother in violation of her HUD lease and you don't want her to lose her housing subsidy, which could very well happen if APS becomes involved. "

This is exactly what I am afraid of. My question is how to get him out of there when she won't cooperate and I can't bring in the law or the state. I will definitely find someone to talk to about this, but does anyone have any idea on what my course of action might be?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:02 PM on August 15, 2010

If you take the line that your brother is taking advantage of your mother, by forcing his way into sleeping at her place... ie placing as much blame for the situation on your brother as possible, you might have an in-road. But... as far as initial contact, in light of the concern I'd leave names out of it essentially outlining the situation "hypothetically" and asking what consequences your mother would face in the situation.
posted by edgeways at 9:37 PM on August 15, 2010

Response by poster: As far as I can tell just by looking around, she could get evicted just because he's there and causing enough trouble that it bothers the neighbors (which it does). I feel like this is truly a catch 22 situation - if I go through official channels she may very well be evicted, if I don't, the same thing is almost guaranteed. This has just been a nightmare. She's got a long history of abusive relationships and alcohol abuse - now it's my brother doing it. No one else cares enough to do anything and my resources are extremely limited.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:53 PM on August 15, 2010

Best answer: When we find or suspect that a tenant has an unauthorized occupant, we give a 30/14 notice which basically says you have 14 days to cure the problem or you get out in 30 days. This would normally be the first step your mom's landlord would take. Only if your mom didn't cure by kicking out your brother (unless, God forbid, she tried to get him on the lease or have him added as a live in caregiver!) would the manager file for eviction (and even then, depending on how tenant friendly your state is, she wouldn't necessarily be evicted at that point.)

memail me if you want more info from the subsidized side of things.
posted by vespabelle at 11:33 PM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

You may not be able to do anything for either of them, a hard, hard pill to swallow when it's people we care about and want to help. AlAnon can support you as you let go of your family members drinking and poor living styles, if it turns out that there is nothing else to do. It's free, loaded with compassionate people, real understanding there.

I'm glad you're free of the situation, that you have a bit of distance on it, allow you some peace.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:05 AM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: vespabell: Thank you for the info - you have memail!

dancestoblue: I'm very nearly done. I felt that I owed it one last try, but if this doesn't take I'm going to bow out from this mess permanently. I'm getting tired of trying to help people who don't want any help. I haven't found a good AlAnon group yet, I went to a local meeting and it was just me and a guy that cried the entire time. Not therapeutic! Thanks for the kind words.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:21 AM on August 16, 2010

Best answer: "Honestly, at this point, I almost want to just let them kill each other and remove the problem." Shore up your good memories and follow this course of action. Make a plan for getting future calls with bad or worse news.
posted by eccnineten at 6:39 AM on August 16, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, I am done. After several conversations with my mom, I called her and wished her "good luck." I am finished with that freak show. 20 years too late, but finally it's done.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:45 PM on August 16, 2010

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