10-19-23

10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Yong Soo Kim quietly lived alone in his one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in North Salinas for more than 20 years. Beyond a few friends in his Northgate Village housing complex, the divorced, retired Kim mostly kept to himself. His son, who works in tech in Silicon Valley, admits they’ve never had the closest relationship and that he seldom came down to visit. Few, if any, who know him realized that in recent years, the 84-year-old Kim began suffering from dementia. The condition, his family says, led to him lapsing on his $570-per-month homeowners association fees beginning in 2021. That prompted Northgate Village’s management to commence foreclosure proceedings against Kim, and by August 2023, his son Dow Kim received a call from the Monterey’s County Sheriff’s Office informing him that his father was being evicted, and that he needed to drive down to Salinas to help move out his belongings immediately. “This was a shock to me,” Dow Kim says. He describes his father, who paid off his mortgage on the condo 10 years ago, as an exceptionally frugal man. “There’s no way he’d do anything to compromise his home…He put all his life savings into that house, and I don’t know if it’s hit him that he lost it.” Despite the HOA and the foreclosure trustee it hired both claiming they mailed and posted numerous notices to the Kim’s residence alerting him of the situation, Dow Kim says his father was unaware of why he had been evicted. And since neither Kim’s son nor any other relatives were registered as contacts with the HOA, no one in his family was notified ahead of time. “This has been an ongoing, multiyear process,” says Bill Phillips, owner of Terra Vista HOA Management, which manages Northgate Village’s HOA. Phillips, who says the HOA was unaware of Kim’s mental state, describes it as “a real unfortunate situation,” but says the HOA had to move on Kim’s home on behalf of its homeowners. “All of the communication was done, all of the legal requirements were met. It wasn’t done in haste or callousness—it was done over years of trying to work with this person.” By the time Kim’s condo was sold in a foreclosure sale in November 2022, he owed the HOA nearly $19,000 in unpaid fees, according to Marsha Townsend, president of Sunrise Assessment Services, the foreclosure trustee hired by Northgate Village. Townsend says the foreclosure process gave Kim several opportunities to pay what he owed and redeem his property, but that Sunrise Assessments heard nothing from him and were unaware of his condition. The eventual eviction order against Kim was filed by Hero Homes, a San Bernardino-based company formed just last year as a tax-advantaged, nonprofit public benefit corporation. After the foreclosure, Hero Homes acquired Kim’s condo for $112,000 in March 2023, according to property records. (Kim received around $90,000 in surplus funds, minus what he owed the Northgate Village HOA, from the Hero Homes sale. He purchased the property for $165,000 in 2002.) In documents filed with the state, Hero Homes said its purpose “is to provide housing to veterans and single mothers in need”—a mission echoed by its managing director, Nick Benavides, when reached by phone. Hero Homes has no website nor public-facing presence, and lists as its address an industrial lot in San Bernardino occupied by Storm Trooper Coaches, a travel bus company also founded by Benavides. Since buying Kim’s former condo, Hero Homes has listed it for sale again, presently for $275,000. Listing details note that “special financing” is available for veteran and single-parent applicants, and add that the property is also available for rent at a discounted rate to single parents and veterans. Yet in evicting Kim, Hero Homes removed an elderly, ill South Korean military veteran from his home, according to his family. Additionally, Kim’s family and their legal representatives say they have repeatedly reached out to Hero Homes and Benavides with offers to reacquire the condo for around $175,000, only to be consistently ignored. Hero Homes and Benavides did not return multiple follow-up requests for comment. Dutch Meyer, an attorney with Monterey Peninsula Law, who filed the eviction order on behalf of Hero Homes, says Kim “ignored everybody who tried to interact with him” before he was forced out of the condo. Meyer adds that neither his firm nor his client had a duty to “pry into the capacity of the former owner.” Lawyers consulted by Kim’s family say there’s little “room to challenge the foreclosure or eviction process legally,” according to attorney Lindsey BergJames of law firm Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss. Still, Berg-James lays blame on the HOA for not doing more to help “an elderly homeowner who paid his fees reliably” for years, as well as with Hero Homes for not acting in good faith. She notes that Hero Homes’ nonprofit status let it take advantage of Senate Bill 1079, a 2020 state law allowing affordable housing-focused nonprofits to bid on foreclosed properties in the wake of a trustee sale. Kim is now living at another Salinas property owned by an extended relative, and his son says he may have to enter an assisted living facility given his condition. “I had no idea,” Dow Kim says. “I would have never let him go down this path.” Dues Date A Salinas man suffering from dementia lost his home. His family is trying to get it back. By Rey Mashayekhi news Home Team The annual Lead Me Home Summit brings together leaders from Monterey and San Benito counties to share strategies for reducing homelessness. 10am-3pm Thursday, Oct. 19. CSUMB @ Salinas City Center, 1 Main St., Salinas; free tickets are sold out, but the event is also viewable on Zoom. Free. 883-3080, chsp.org. House and Home Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and the cities of Soledad, Gonzales and Greenfield host a summit to discuss policies to increase housing affordability in South County. 6pm Thursday, Oct. 19. Hartnell College Soledad campus, 1505 Metz Road, Soledad. Free; refreshments provided. 915-2806, mbep.biz. Fall Cleaning Salinas Valley Recycles offers an opportunity to get rid of unwanted junk including electronics, computers and oil filters. (Furniture and yard waste are not accepted.) Available to Gonzales residents. 8am-1pm Saturday, Oct. 21. Fairview Middle School, 401 4th St., Gonzales. Free. (888) 678-6798, svswa.org. Ready, Go Local and state agencies host an emergency preparedness fair to offer resources and tips to be ready for a potential disaster. Learn how to use a fire extinguisher, create a family emergency plan, what to do with pets in case of an emergency or evacuation, and more. The first 500 attendees receive a free kit with emergency essentials. 10am-1pm Saturday, Oct. 21. Del Monte Shopping Center (near Macy’s and Starbucks), 1410 Del Monte Center, Monterey. Free. 625-4505, montagehealth.org. Black and White Celebrate LULAC #2055’s 50th anniversary and support its scholarship program. The organization’s black and white ball is back with a silent auction, dance-off contest and raffle. Wear your finest. 5-11pm Saturday, Oct. 21. Hartnell College student center, 411 Central Ave., Salinas. $125. 206-9089, lulac. org. Bus Route Point Lobos is a must-see destination in Monterey County, and California State Parks wants to provide options for visitors to get there safely and improve their experience. Point Lobos visitors are invited to take an online survey about their travel habits to and from the reserve to help develop baseline data. Tuesday, Oct. 31 is the last day to complete the survey. Free. bit.ly/surveylobos2023. Since purchasing elderly dementia patient Yong Soo Kim’s Salinas condo, the nonprofit Hero Homes has evicted Kim and rebuffed offers by his family to buy the property back. e-mail: publiccitizen@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “He put all his life savings into that house, and I don’t know if it’s really hit him that he lost it. ” Daniel Dreifuss

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