It’s a story that touched viewers across the valley as Gail Clay, 63, was preparing to live in her SUV after finding out that her apartment rent in Tempe would almost double in July.
ABC15 met Clay in a Tempe Library parking lot to find out how she and her dog adjusted to life in his Honda CRV.
“It’s really fun, except sometimes it can get a little hot,” Clay said.
When we first met in July, she had decided that living in her vehicle made the most financial sense.
“I’d rather pay my car bill and enjoy life,” she said at the time.
And for the most part, it has been.
“It’s a choice I honestly make every day, whether I want to be sane, or whether I want to be crazy,” she said.
But a bill of nearly $ 9,000 from the management company for her old apartment threatens to push her to the limit.
Court records show that a judge ordered Clay to pay $ 1,064 after his deportation hearing in July. This amount included the July rent, late fees, court costs and landlord’s attorney fees.
So how did $ 1,064 turn into $ 8,998.04?
Clay said she wasn’t sure but, “I had a feeling this was going to happen.”
And it was Market Edge Realty that said the keys were not returned by July 31 and the penalty was two months rent.
Although she referred it to an attached quote for cleaning a tenant registry and a lawyer bill, Clay said none had been received.
“I cleaned my stove, I cleaned my tub, I cleaned everything,” and Clay said she took pictures for proof.
Clay also said she sent her keys to the property management company by certified mail. She showed ABC 15 tracking information from the United States Post Office which shows the keys arrived at a zip code corresponding to property managers on July 28.
Gail says she contacted Market Edge Realty about the invoice, but has not heard back. The company also did not respond to ABC15.
“It sounds like retaliation,” Clay said.
She is fighting against her old house while trying to find a new one. But no luck. She says she applied to senior communities, but they have a 2-3 year waiting list.
Although she is technically retired, she also works as a registered massage therapist, but this extra income causes her to earn too much help but not enough to be able to rent a spot.
“It’s a catch 22 but I’m not caught because I don’t mind sleeping in my car,” she said.
But when it all gets too much, the comforter on her bed has the word “breathe” and she says it reminds her to do just that.
“When I’m overwhelmed; Gail, breathe. It is only temporary; Gail is breathing, ”she told herself.