The Guest House and the owners of the building it has occupied for years were spared immediate eviction in Magistrate Court on Thursday, attorney Lydia Sartain said.
“We were able to reach an agreement with the housing authority, giving the Guest House until May 1 to find a suitable facility and relocate,” she said.
“They have been working hard to find a suitable location, and put together a plan to try to raise the money so that their clients continue to be served as well as possible,” Sartain said.
For Sartain, the pro bono case has been rewarding.
“It was my privilege to assist the Guest House. I appreciate my partners allowing me the opportunity to represent them at no charge,” Sartain said.
That gratitude was mutual.
Dana Chapman is executive director of The Guest House.
“We’re incredibly relieved. I’ll be happy to see it in writing,” she said. “It’s been a big piece of work for Lydia. I really appreciate what the whole firm has done for Guest House, because we could not have afforded that kind of counsel over this long period of time.”
She said the drama surrounding the eviction was in part a lack of understanding on the difficult nature of a move.
“We are happy (to) relocate. But there were certain steps we needed to take in order to do that,” she said. “Moving your grandmother is one thing, but when you’re moving an entire household of folks with dementia and the medical care involved, and all of the things that we needed to do, it’s a pretty big undertaking.”
She is pleased, she said, that the timing of the process ended up unfolding well.
It should be a matter of weeks or days when the new space is revealed, she said, as the lease is being negotiated.
“I am really looking forward to being able to report where that building is, and who it belongs to, and the circumstances of him having come forward to offer it to us,” she said.
“It’s another incredibly generous piece of work on his part, and on the part of his family — his entire family is in agreement with what he’s doing.”
The process has revealed a good-natured side of community, Chapman said.
“It’s one of those great things that Gainesville is known for — collaboration,” she said.
Sartain had one final comment to add.
“Merry Christmas to The Guest House and all of their clients,” she said.