On April 13, SFR reported on complaints of mismanagement filed by a resident of Casa Cerrillos, a substance-free housing program run by the St. Elizabeth Shelter Corp.
At 3 pm the day the story published, Julia, the resident who filed the complaint, was issued a warning by Casa Cerrillos Program Manager Shea Barnes for failing to follow the proper grievance procedure by sending her complaints directly to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
At 3:30 pm, Julia was given a urinalysis test. At 4:50 pm, she went to The Life Link to have a second test done—just in case.
It was a good call. The following day, Barnes issued Julia a second warning, stating that her urinalysis had "showed positive for Methamphetamines" and demanding that she leave Casa Cerrillos within five days.
But the Life Link test was negative. Julia provided SFR with a copy and, on April 15, hand-delivered a letter to St. Elizabeth Shelter Executive Director Deborah Tang stating her innocence.
To Julia, the actions taken against her only reinforce allegations of dysfunctional leadership at Casa Cerrillos. (HUD spokeswoman Patricia Campbell tells SFR that HUD has looked into Julia's complaint but could not provide further information before press time.)
Tang says urinalysis tests performed at Casa Cerrillos have, "on occasion," proved inaccurate.
"We are not a professional lab," Tang says, adding that the test in question wasn't administered properly.
"The whole test was suspect from the very beginning," Tang says. "It looked like it had been tampered with."
Tang says the issue of whether an obviously flawed test should be the basis for an eviction is rare.
"Usually, people just go ahead and vacate the premises because they know that that urinalysis is just reflecting whatever drugs they had taken," Tang says.
In this case, Tang says, "I believe we have been in touch with Life Link, and we will allow that one to stand."