REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (CBSLA) – Every other week, Rozanna Handrich stands on the sidewalk and looks up to her grandmother’s balcony at her Redondo Beach, California apartment complex. It’s often the only social interaction 95-year old Klara Kharkats gets now that she stays inside to protect herself from COVID.
“So it’s just her sitting in a room,” Handrich tells CBS Los Angeles. “I get sad just thinking about it because I can’t imagine what it’s like to just sit by yourself all day long.”
Rozanna would bring her small children into Klara’s apartment. “I even had all their toys set up at her apartment so they wouldn’t get bored there,” she said. “I would just sit with her for a few hours every weekend.”
But when COVID hit, Rozanna and her family members decided it was too risky to meet indoors. “We are just really scared to get her sick,” she said. “None of us want to be the reason anything happens to her.”
For months- Rozanna has visited with Klara this way – Klara on her balcony, Rozanna below on the public sidewalk. They usually would meet around noon, after her grandma was up and dressed and before nap time for Rozanna’s kids. Last week, Klara got a notice from her apartment manager, which read, “We have received complaints regarding excessive noise coming from your unit…Please have your guest come and visit inside your unit.”
The note then ended with: “Continued violation of your lease ruled and regulations will result in further action which may include eviction.”
Klara – who fled her native Ukraine during World War II – has lived in the apartment for nearly 20 years. “She’s concerned, because she’s lived there for so long. She doesn’t want to be evicted,” said Rozanna. “She came from communism, so she is afraid of any type of disruption like that.”
For now, Rozanna is still visiting her grandma. She fears if she stops coming, it will take a toll on her grandmother’s emotional well-being. “You can hear it in her voice, if she hasn’t seen anyone in awhile,” she said. “It really hurts me to hear when she says she is lonely.”
Sarah Furchtenicht, Executive Vice President of GK Management, the apartment management company, released this statement:
“We recognize the importance of families maintaining contact with their loved ones, particularly during this unprecedented time of COVID. We regret the tone of the notice our manager sent to Ms. Kharats, which was taken from a form letter we send to tenants with chronic noise issues. We have sent a rescission notice to her this morning and apologize for the misunderstanding.
“The notice, which was prompted by complaints from other tenants, should have been more sensitive and spelled out the solution more clearly. We encourage family members to continue visiting their grandmother while maintaining CDC guidelines of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Her health and theirs will be preserved by following those recommendations. In this case, we encourage the family to use their cell phones instead of yelling from the sidewalk.”