Former marine and Iraq war veteran, Robert Lorentz, has only four months to live. Discharged from the military in 2007 when he was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, Lorentz said he wants to die at home near the comfort of family and friends.
Unfortunately, he now faces eviction from his Phoenix apartment because his landlord said he has too many visitors.
“I’m deadly scared of hospice and nursing homes,” Lorentz told The Republic from his bed, where he is largely confined. “This is around my family. It’s close to my clinic. It’s where I want to be.”
Each day Lorentz, 37, has visitors who cook him meals, help him go to the bathroom and change his clothes. He calls them his “street family.”
Emanuel Dobos, the apartment owner, worries the visitors are squatters who are using Lorentz’s studio apartment as a crash pad. On a normal day, Lorentz has as many as six visitors in his unit with constant movement as people go from his apartment to his mother’s unit.
“They kiss, make out in front. They fight. They do all kinds of stuff,” Dobos told The Republic. “I don’t think that [Lorentz] wants them there. He’d rather have peace and quiet.”
Lorentz’s apartment is next to his mother’s apartment. His rent is arranged by a homeless advocacy organization and costs about $590 a month. Lorentz said he has never been late on a rent payment.
Dobos gave Lorentz three months to vacate the apartment.
“I’ve tried to reason with them,” he said. “I have tried not to evict him. But something needs to be done.”
The apartment complex itself is reportedly shabby and exhibits a number of code violations. One apartment is red-tagged as uninhabitable. The outside is full of stray cats and on the inside there are cockroaches. The pool and laundry room are broken, and tenants dry their laundry on a fence surrounding the drained pool.
Lorentz’s apartment — despite portable fans — is hot and smells of smoke. The only window in the front room, where Lorentz’s bed sits, is covered with a Marine Corps flag.
Dobos, who does not live in the complex, said he gave Lorentz a verbal notice of eviction three months ago. Later he warned Lorentz he has 30 days to leave the premises. He said nothing has changed. Just two weeks ago, he called the police; it was not reported why Dobos did so.
Dobos said he is sympathetic, but he has given Lorentz enough chances.
“If you talk to other tenants, they will tell you that I am too nice,” Dobos said. “I’m trying to help, even now.”
In the past, Dobos brought Lorentz and his mother to church with him.
Lorentz said he is just trying to live in peace and fulfill his modest bucket list before his time is through.
“I’m a Marine,” he said. “I know being a fighter will keep me alive for more than four months.”