Louise Odom's nightmare started early yesterday morning when she had a premonition that made her scurry back to her 16th Street apartment.
"I had been out walking on 16th Street, looking for work, and something told me to go back home," recalled the 55-year-old native Washingtonian. "I though it might be something wrong with my dogs, but the elevator man told me the resident manager, had been looking for me because they were going to set me out at 11:30."
So promptly on schedule, with no family, no money, and nowhere to go, Odom, her three dogs and all her worldly possessions were moved out of the rundown one-bedroom apartment at 1610 16th St. NW where she had lived for six years.
She had fallen far behind in her monthly rent of $199.50 in the two years since she was laid off from her job as a cook. Since then each morning she would walk city streets looking for odd jobs that let her earn enough to support herself and her pets.
the $2 she had in her pocket was given to her by the U.S. marshal who supervised the eviction.
"No one likes to do this undesirable task," admitted the marshal, who asked not to be identified. "We're supposed to be tough. But she didn't have anything, so I gave her two of the three dollars in my pocket. It's a test of endurance in this town to put out people who've been forgotten about."
Odom said she has been attempting to receive assistance from the Department of Human Resources.
Odom had refused to see another caseworker while her own was out sick, resulting in a delay that pushed the emergency assistance paperwork past the eviction deadline, according to Juanita Thomas of DHR's Family Service Division.
"We didn't get involved with her as soon as we should have, but Mrs. Odom was holding out in refusing to see anyone but the caseworker she had developed a rapport with," Thomas said. "Our best bet now that the eviction has taken place is to get her relocated if she will come in and talk with me."
Odom claimed that when she talked to her caseworker Monday she understood everything would be taken care of, so she was shocked to find herself being evicted.
Yesterday morning DHR sent a truck and workmen to Odom's apartment to help her clean out belongings. They will be stored in the NW Settlement House Family Storage Center for 60 days.
"I don't know where I'm going and I can't even think about it now," said Odom as she comforted her pets and gave them fresh water from the sink before the marshal escorted her out. "These dogs are nervous with all this going on."
Odom, who had been awarded a special animal kindness award from the Washington Animal Rescue League, said her greatest happiness comes from caring for her pets. The largest, a brown and white mutt, she found as a stray and nursed to health.
"They're going to be so upset not to sleep in the same house for the first time," sighed Odom, who said a friend at the rescue legue will see that the dogs are cared for. "These poor babies. I just don't know where they're going to sleep tonight."