From homeless camp to ‘penthouse’
Woman, 75, uses lawsuit settlement to start over
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.
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.