From home­less camp to ‘pen­t­house’

Wo­man, 75, uses law­suit set­tle­ment to start over

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Brittany Wall­man Staff writer

Un­til about a year ago, Holly Grant was liv­ing out­doors in down­town Fort Lauderdale’s home­less camp, with boxes and boxes and boxes of her be­long­ings, all neatly stacked and cov­ered with a tarp.

Now, thanks to a re­cent law­suit set­tle­ment with the city, the 75-year-old self-de­scribed “hoarder” plans to buy a van, de­clut­ter her life and start anew.

“You can’t hold down a good wo­man,” Grant said from a gath­er­ing room in her low-in­come se­nior tower, as her Chi­huahua, Su­gar Pie Honey Bunch, nes­tled af­fec­tion­ately in her lap.

Grant was one of 10 home­less peo­ple who sued the city for de­stroy­ing their be­long­ings last year, when the camp was razed be­cause of a rat in­fes­ta­tion. Now liv­ing in what she terms a “pen­t­house” in Coral Springs, Grant said she’ll use her por­tion of the re­cent law­suit set­tle­ment to buy a $2,000 van. She’ll fill it with items she said she hoarded in her apart­ment, and sell them at a flea mar­ket. And then, the fu­ture is hers.

“When I had noth­ing, hav­ing so much stuff made me com­fort­able,” Grant said. “The fear of not hav­ing any­thing again filled my head.”

The city agreed to set­tle the law­suit for $82,020. About half will go to the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and South­ern Le­gal Coun­sel, who sued on be­half of the home­less peo­ple. Grant and nine oth­ers will share in the re­main­der. ACLU at­tor­ney Jac­que­line Azis de­clined to say how much each plain­tiff re­ceived.

Grant and at least one other home­less per­son have moved out of the camp and into hous­ing. Grant said a wo­man in the Main Li­brary next to the camp helped her find the

$217-a-month, low-in­come se­nior tower last year, af­ter the city’s raid.

In her boxes, Grant was stor­ing

$6,500 worth of jew­elry, clothes and trea­sures, she said in the law­suit. The items had once filled the shelves at her an­tique store in Da­nia Beach, she said. She lived above the Fed­eral High­way shop.

Rede­vel­op­ment came, and so did a wreck­ing ball.

CAR­LINE JEAN/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Holly Grant, a former Girl Scout who flashed her bi­ceps to re­porters, said she might be 75, but if she doesn’t look in the mir­ror, she thinks she’s 41.

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