Unexpected gift turns to unexpected problems

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2002

It was a gift from heaven that just seemed to have landed in her lap &045;&045; or so she thought.

A gift from God, something she could use to benefit her fellow man, something she could use to serve those around her.

Lilli Daniels, a 56-year-old Selma resident who is on disability and who lives in Section 8 housing, received an unexpected windfall earlier this year. It was a life insurance policy from her boyfriend, who died a year ago.

Email newsletter signup

Daniels said she didn’t even know about the policy, or the money that came with it. Daniels said her boyfriend was considered a high-risk insurance case because he was a heavy smoker. However, when Daniels received the policy, she was shocked.

“It was $25,000,” Daniels said. “I had absolutely no idea that I would be receiving this much money. I really believed it was meant for someone else.”

Daniels, who describes herself as a devout Christian, said she prayed for many hours about what to do with the money.

“I just knew I couldn’t keep this money for myself,” Daniels said. Since she decided it was a gift from God, there was only one thing to do: spend the money to help others.

Daniels said she donated money to churches, charities and various other organizations. She purchased many books on Christianity. She also spent $1,000 on a headstone for her boyfriend. Most of the remaining amount she spent on her two biological children and two adopted children, both of whom are mentally challenged and currently residing with her.

Finally, Daniels reported spending money on her living expenses, such as rent and other necessities.

Before she knew it, she said, the $25,000 had dwindled down to $1,600.

Then Daniels said she received another shock.

“I received a letter from the Selma Housing Authority saying that my rent would go up from $77 to $396” a $319 increase, Daniels said.

Daniels said she failed to realize that the money she received from the insurance policy would be counted as income by the housing authority.

Daniels, who has suffered two strokes, is diabetic and has problems even walking, said making higher rent payments is not something she was expecting.

“I really didn’t know that this would happen,” she said. “They just suddenly told me this month that my rent would be going up.”

Daniels also had fears that she would be forced out of Section 8 housing.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the organization that oversees the Selma Housing Authority, anyone who receives a life insurance policy, worth $25,000, is still eligible for Section 8 housing, but will have their rent increased.

HUD officials said that since they did not know the circumstances behind Daniels’ case, they could not verify why her rent increased by $319, a substantial amount, they noted.

And with her income having decreased, they could not verify when or if her rent would decrease proportionately, without knowing all the circumstances behind Daniels case.

Jackie Peake, assistant executive director of the Selma Housing Authority, told The Times-Journal she could not comment on the matter until receiving permission from the housing authority’s legal department.

Daniels, meanwhile, says she is in a state of confusion, not knowing what to do when the all the money finally runs out.

“I guess, if I have to pay, I will probably have to borrow from my children,” she said. “God always has a plan, and through praying to God, I know somehow things will eventually work themselves out.”