The story of an 85-year-old grandmother from Flatbush in Brookyly, New York, went viral in 2017. Her entire world fell apart when she was evicted from her apartment.
Joy Noel had never imagined that she would end up being homeless in her 80s. Her local community rallied around her and helped get the word out about what they saw as an illegal eviction.
Noel said she had notified her landlord over the course of summer that she would be traveling for a couple of months. “They knew I was not going to be here,” Noel explained.
During the time she was away, the landlord claimed that Noel had refused to sign a new lease. Because of a small mistake, Noel’s name was misspelled, and the court paperwork was sent to the wrong address, and so the eviction process began.
Noel also admitted that she was evicted after not having shown up in court for the case, for which according to her, she was not made aware. To her surprise, when she returned from her trip, she learned that all her belongings had been moved out and a new tenant had moved in to the apartment.
“You know how many people would love to have a tenant like me? Fixing my apartment and paying my rent on time,” Noel said.
After this, several local politicians took it upon them to bring awareness of her case.
“I’m an old woman and I want to live in a decent place,” Noel told PIX11 News.
When Noel was first interviewed by PIX11 on November 13, 2017, she was determined to get back to her home after the eviction from her apartment where she had lived for many years. Her landlord, Carnegie Management, had changed all the locks and all of Noel’s belongings were put into storage.
Only after two days after the story aired, Noel found out that Carnegie Management was no longer paying the storage facility where her belongings had been sent.
“Your items will be auctioned on the 15th of November,” she was told.
“How could you do this to me?” she wondered.
Noel took the landlord back to court, where the case was heard on December 1.
After she was told that her belongings would now be auctioned off, the Flatbush Tenants Coalition, with help from the city, stepped in and helped Noel raise money to keep her belongings in the storage space and for her to buy winter clothing.
But in late January, Noel died at a nursing home.
"No one should die, or live, homeless," the Flatbush Tenants Coalition said in a joint statement with Councilman Jumaane Williams. "Her passing is the devastating result of the system turning a blind eye and disregarding tenants' rights. It is a system that often fails to enforce consequences for landlords, even those who mercilessly target the elderly and the ill. An incredible, strong, and spirited woman, Ms. Noel was unjustly evicted and forced to homelessness at the age of 85.”
PIX11 also reached out to one of the representatives of Carnegie Management for comment about Noel's passing, but there was no response.