Local Restaurant Owner Pledges To Pay Rent Of Mother Facing Eviction

Presley Wilson and her four-year-old son, Raiden, outside of her mobile home in Pomona's California Trailer Grove. (Courtesy of Presley Wilson)

Last week, Presley Wilson was self-isolating in her trailer, unable to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and afraid of contracting it because of her chronic health issues. A single mother, Wilson had received a three-day notice from her landlord, and was facing eviction — during a pandemic.

"It's pretty damn scary, especially when you have a kid," she told me in a story published on Friday.

This week, things are looking better. After seeing our story, an LAist reader contacted Wilson, offering to cut a check for her rent, utilities and late fees.

"The [story] about Presley just stuck out," Shawn Nee said on Monday, after he and Wilson spoke over the phone. "She has a son and I have a son who are both the same age, so that really struck a chord with me."

Nee owns Burgers Never Say Die, a casual and extremely popular Silver Lake burger joint. He decided to shut down the restaurant, even for takeout and delivery.

For Wilson, Nee's help follows days of uncertainty. She recently wrote to her management company asking for rent relief — but hadn't yet heard back. She said she ran into obstacles getting financial support from a county program helping families avoid eviction. She's hopeful that will come through in April.

Sign for the California Trailer Grove mobile home park in Pomona. (Aaron Mendelson/LAist)

"I feel much better," Wilson said on Monday. "This is one less month I have to worry about at the end of all this."

Wilson said the phone call with Nee was itself a bright spot, and a welcome break from the monotony of sheltering at home. "It was nice just to talk to someone else," she said.

Still, Wilson and renters across California face a precarious situation. Unemployment claims have surged this month and federal checks of $1,200 will not cover a single month's rent for many Angelenos.

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a statewide moratorium on residential evictions related to COVID-19, through May 31 — although renters can be evicted once that order lifts. In Los Angeles County, courts are largely closed until June 22, meaning eviction trials will not move forward before then.

Wilson isn't expecting a break from her landlord in the coming months. "We're just dollar signs to them," she said.

Still, she said hearing from Shawn Nee had bought her time and given her hope.

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