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Grandmother evicted from HUD home for cigarettes

She's been smoking since the New Deal, but now she gets this deal

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A grandmother who has been smoking most of her 89 years is being kicked out of her home because she won’t quit smoking.

It’s a Housing & Urban Development section 202 home for low-income seniors, but it is privately owned. The smoking grandmother is Buelah Toombs, who prefers Dorals.

HUD, by law, cannot mandate what a private owner does, but HUD is moving ahead anyway.

Cincinnati.com broke the story, and it would be a crime not to highlight reporter John Faherty’s great lead.

Beulah Toombs started smoking a long time ago. She isn’t sure exactly when, but she was young. Maybe it was 1935, the year Babe Ruth quit playing baseball. Or maybe 1939, the year “The Grapes of Wrath” was published. But it was definitely before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Despite the legal limits of HUD’s authority, the federal department started sending out notices “encouraging” property owners and managers “to implement smoke-free housing policies in some or all of the properties they own.”

Toombs’s apartment building, the AHEPA 127 Apartments, started keeping track of her smoking transgressions. Eventually, management deemed Beulah “non-compliant.”

Would she quit?

“I don’t think so,” she said. “This is my home, and I think you can do whatever you want to in your home.”

So in the next week, Toombs will start packing her things because she’s being evicted.

No, HUD isn’t mandating the no-smoking policy.

But from the perspective of property owners, when the agency that controls the purse strings strongly suggest a policy, it’s more than just a suggestion.

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